This September, leaders of two distinct communities within Mahwah are planning to try to forge a connection between them.
According to Ramapough Lenape Nation Chief Dwayne Perry, the divide between the 75-100 native people who live primarily on Stag Hill Road, and the rest of the township, has a deep history. “What we need now is for people on both sides to start a dialogue with each other. For a lot of reasons, you have people on both sides who are mistrusting, and in some cases disrespectful, toward one another. We want to start to break that down.”
"In some ways, it is like Mahwah vs. Mahwah, and we don't need to have the two Mahwahs. We are all a community."
Perry, Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet and several Stag Hill residents are planning a round table discussion next month that they say will attempt to repair the divide between the two social groups.
The group plans to brainstorm ways to promote positive interactions between people on both sides. Some ideas that have surfaced already include:
- A community barbeque sponsored by and held at the Ramapough tribal office on Stag Hill Road
- A wet down party for a new Company 5 fire truck. Co. 5 is located on Stag Hill Road.
- A sports-related event or gathering (like a recreational game or youth baseball event) held at the park and field on Stag Hill Road
Laforet said the few ideas the group has come up with so far are a start, but that the round table will be trying to find ways to re-introduce the communities to one another. “We see that there is a problem here, which is why we want to open up a dialogue about it,” he said. “There is a social divide between these two communities. We are trying to bridge that gap, but we need help figuring out how to do it.”
The group is in the midst of setting up a roundtable tentatively scheduled for mid-September. Before the meeting, they want to solicit ideas for events or other functions that could be held as a way to foster positive interactions between people in both communities.
For the next week, Patch will accept suggestions either as comments on this article, or emailed to Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org. The suggestions will be gathered and sent to the group for consideration at their roundtable discussion.
“This is just a beginning step, but I think the people in both communities will be a huge help in figuring out how we can better live together as a cohesive community,” Laforet said.
“We understand that some people may be reluctant to a change like this, and it is understandable because of a long history,” Perry said. “But that needs to be overcome.”
Send your suggestions for ways to bridge the social divide between the Ramapough Lenape tribe and the rest of Mahwah to Jessica.email@example.com, or leave them as comments on this article.