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New Jersey Indian Tribe Files Suit For Ownership Of Manhattan

By DNAinfo Staff on June 18, 2010 4:58pm

According to one tribe, the United States claimed Manhattan illegally.
According to one tribe, the United States claimed Manhattan illegally.
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Flickr user The West End

By Nina Mandell

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — In the latest twist in a two-year battle, the New Jersey Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians filed a suit in a New Jersey court claiming it owns Manhattan, as well as the Hudson New Jersey, Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania.

While the lawsuit may seem unrealistic, tribe spokesperson Laura Zucker said they are confident in their case.

“Oh no, they’re going to win, there’s no question about it,” she said. “They do have a really good case, and they know it. They’re in it to win it.”

The suit claims that the tribe’s land was stolen from them through a series of fraudulent treaties that violated international treaty laws. They are seeking the “return [of] all land, water, trees, etc. encompassing the fraudulent 'Manhattan' purchase, damages, and punitive damages,” according to court documents.

This isn’t the tribe’s first attempt at getting ownership of the Big Apple. They originally filed suit in April 2009, suing officials in New Jersey, including the governor, secretary of state and attorney general with violation of human rights, genocide and breaking of treaties.

That suit was dismissed in 2009.

Chief Ronald Holloway also appeared in front of the United Nations earlier this year asking for help in reclaiming damages from the state. According to Zucker, the United Nations is still reviewing the case.