Or you can mail donations to Henry Shivley at P.O. Box 964, Chiloquin, OR 97624

The tribal war over property gifted to banned Indian chief

The New York Post

Tribal warfare has broken out over a millionaire’s offer to give a piece of Manhattan — his West Village home — back to the Indians.

Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois is ready to bestow the $4 million house on the Hudson River to Anthony Jay Van Dunk, a chief in the Lenape nation, the tribe that originally inhabited Manhattan.  

But after The Post revealed Bourgeois’ philanthropy last Sunday, another Lenape chief has come forward to say Van Dunk was kicked out of the tribe and that he would like the property.

“He’s been the only person in the tribe to be banished for his past actions,” said Dwaine Perry, 69, the current chief of the ­Ramapough Lenape Nation, which numbers about 5,000 and is based in Mahwah, NJ.

Perry said he would like to work with Bourgeois and perhaps transform the home at 6 Weehawken St. into a Native American embassy providing services to indigenous people.

Bourgeois said he wants to turn over his property, which dates to 1834, to an Indian-controlled nonprofit he would help establish. The activist for Native American causes said he was motivated by guilt that Mannahatta — land of many hills — was “taken by whites” in the 17th century.

Bourgeois, the 76-year-old son of the late sculptor Louise Bourgeois, said the internecine squabbling doesn’t matter. He said he has no interest in meeting Perry and is sticking with Van Dunk, a 54-year-old Brooklyn woodworker.
6 Weehawkin Street in New York, a landmarked West Village house.J.C. Rice

“It makes no difference to me. I consider Anthony the chief,” Bourgeois told The Post.

Van Dunk was the chief, for one year in 2006, when he finished out the term of another leader who stepped down. He said he instituted movie nights, started an ­Internet cafe and arranged for trauma counseling after a tribal member was fatally shot by a ­police officer.

He said Perry later accused him of stealing, a charge that he claims proved to be unfounded.

Perry said there were fiscal irregularities during Van Dunk’s tenure, but declined to elaborate.

He contends that Van Dunk wanted to change who could be considered a Ramapough, with some longstanding tribal members disowned.

“That’s sort of a crime against humanity in its own way,” Perry said.

Van Dunk said he was merely carrying out the genealogy policy instituted by the former chief, which took into account bloodlines and geography.

“He seems to have his panties in a bunch and he always has,” Van Dunk said of Perry.

Van Dunk said he would not be dissuaded from accepting Bourgeois’ gift. He envisions the historic dwelling as a patahmaniikan, or prayer house.

Bourgeois and his sculptor mother once planned to turn the house, which a family LLC bought in 2006 for $2.2 million, into a museum dedicated to water. One of Louise Bourgeois’ sculptures, a ­giant spider, sold for $28 million last year.

Her son and Van Dunk held a ritual ceremony in the small house to inform “the spirits we were coming in with a good heart.”

“Even though I am banned from the nation, which basically means I’m not part of their club and I can’t go to the picnics, that doesn’t take from me that I am a Ramapough,” Van Dunk said.


This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The tribal war over property gifted to banned Indian chief

  1. Jolly Roger says:

    The Injuns had no concept of private property, or ownership of real estate until we arrived here. When someone “bought” an island, or mountain from them they probably laughed, and took whatever was offered, thinking the white man was silly for believing he could own part of the Earth.

    “…motivated by guilt that Mannahatta — land of many hills — was “taken by whites” in the 17th century.”

    Land of many hills? Lay off the fire-water, chief. Manhattan Island is almost flat as a board. There’s a real steep hill up in Harlem, a small one between Canal street and the bridges, and some gradual sloping elsewhere, but certainly nothing that would inspire that name in a sane person. (when you travel by bicycle, you know where the hills are).

    Now I have to wonder if hills were leveled as the island was developed into a city.

Leave a Reply