We began working to advance the agendas of the Ramapough Lenape Turtle Clan (a New Jersey State-recognized tribal body) in 2017. First studying the impact of a Superfund site on the Clan’s land and people, then strategizing and visualizing community and environmental improvements to shift municipal and state conversations about the future of the area; and later, helping to document and protect ceremonial stone landscapes threatened by development. Most recently, Chief Vincent Mann and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Michaeline Picaro Mann have asked Praxis to help them develop the concept design for a new sustainable community in Ringwood, New Jersey, and to initiate the next phase of preservation research on ceremonial stone landscapes along a section of the historic Minisink Trail.
Lenape homelands encompass all of New Jersey and regions of New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. While colonization decimated the Lenape peoples—bringing disease, genocide, and mass displacement—they never fully left their homelands, surviving through hiding, adaptation, and forced cultural assimilation. Today, roughly 10,000 Lenape live in this area, thousands of whom are actively participating in Lenape culture and its organized clans, reclaiming ownership of their personal narratives. For generations the legacy and continual presence of the Lenape people have been diminished or outright omitted across the region. Through our ongoing partnership with the Lenape, and their allies, Praxis is working to change this.
The Ramapough Lenape Turtle Clan has excellent leadership, strong partnerships, and is actively engaged in many projects to strengthen their people in northern New Jersey and to work with other Lenape Clans. We are supporting their goals of interpreting, preserving, and validating the often-overlooked landscapes and heritage of the Lenape and uplifting Native elders as experts. We believe that by building capacity to both continue and diversify the design projects we lend our skills to we can support the Lenape Nation holistically, which is the only way to achieve meaningful impacts and realize a more equitable, sustainable future.