Community honors heritage month with closing banquet

Graphic courtesy of Ramapough Lenape Nation, Facebook

To honor the end of Native American Heritage Month, Ramapo hosted a closing banquet in Friend’s Hall Tuesday evening. The Ramapough Lunaape tribe helped organize the event, along with the Women’s Center and the Center for Student Involvement. The event was used to help raise awareness and funds for those impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Assistant anthropology professor Neriko Doerr invited her World Culture class to watch a presentation on the Taino people in Puerto Rico.

Refreshments were provided for students and faculty attending the event. Students purchased T-shirts and raffle tickets, with all proceeds donated to the indigenous Taino people.

“Right when you walked into Friends Hall, the event was really tranquil,” said Junior Richard Bruno. “They were playing calming music and everyone was super friendly. They also had a lot of food and drinks for everyone. The event was also really educational.”

Doerr’s World Culture class provided insight into the origins of the Taino people, native to Puerto Rico, who were catastrophically affected by the hurricane. Much of Puerto Rico is still without electricity and many are desperate for clean drinking water.

The class explained how the government is still not helping to full capacity. Therefore, the people of Puerto Rico are requiring outside help. The Tiano people, who were almost wiped out after colonization, have already suffered and persevered. Presenters explained, “We have to make sure they are protected and healthy to carry on their traditions.” A donation of any size would greatly help the indigenous people.

“The amount of devastation the people of Puerto Rico have experienced is heartbreaking,” said Junior Caroline Arthur. “It’s important to protect the Tiano people, as well as preserve their customs.”

Mary J. Butler also spoke to encourage students to research the Ramapough Sweet Water Prayer Camp, founded by the Ramapough Lunaape Nation. Butler helped start the Friends of Ramapough organization, along with the head of the tribe, Chief Perry. The mission of the organization is to create communication between Ramapo College members and the surrounding communities.

The Lunaape tribe, located in Mahwah, has organized a prayer camp, erected last October in solidarity with the Sioux tribe at Standing Rock, North Dakota. The camp, which is open to all community members, is used for prayer and reflection, as well as a place to educate the community on current issues.

“I wasn’t aware of the Sweet Water Camp before today, but after looking at their Facebook page I think it’s a great way to stay engaged with the Lunaape tribe and the current struggles they’re facing,” said senior Michaella Bermudez. “They stood in solidarity with Standing Rock North Dakota, which is an issue that’s really important to me.”