New Jersey settles suit over status of Native American group
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s attorney general on Thursday announced a legal settlement that gives official status to a Native American tribe.
Under terms of the settlement, the state also will pay the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation $2.4 million. The state admits no wrongdoing or liability.
Both sides have also agreed that the settlement doesn’t give the Lenape federal casino gambling rights.
The Lenape sued the state in 2015 and alleged it was given official status as a tribe through a 1982 state resolution but that when it tried to reaffirm the designation, it found the attorney general’s office had decided not to recognize it in 2012.
A lower court ruled the tribe was never established as an official entity because the resolution was not a law submitted to the governor. It said that although there were legal measures taken in the years following 1982, none actually granted the nation official recognition.
Last year, an appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision and ruled the lawsuit could go forward.
The southern New Jersey-based nation, which numbers approximately 3,000 members, has said the lack of official status has meant it can’t say artwork is American Indian-made without being fined, and that it has been ineligible for federal scholarships and grant funding.