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Department of State

New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary
New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs

About the Commission

The New Jersey Commission on Native American Affairs was created by P.L.1134, c. 295, and signed into law on December 22, 1995. It was placed within the New Jersey Department of State. Later legislation changed the name to the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs. Its first meeting was held on April 18, 1997 and it continues to meet regularly in Trenton, usually on the third Wednesday of the month. The Commission is covered by the Open Public Meetings Act.

The Commission serves as a liaison among the tribes and the State and Federal governments. It is empowered to develop programs and projects to further understanding of New Jersey's American Indian history and culture.

There are nine members of the Commission: the Secretary of State, serving ex officio, and eight public members. The public members, who are recommended by their tribes and organizations and appointed by the Governor, consist of two members from each of the following: Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians, Powhatan Renape Indians, Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation, and Inter-Tribal People. Inter-Tribal People refers to American Indian people who reside in New Jersey, but are members of federally and/or State-recognized tribes in other states.

 

Mission

The mission of the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs is:

  • To ensure that the American Indian Tribal members and communities within the State of New Jersey have full opportunities for their own cultural, educational, social, economic, physical, mental health, and welfare development, as well as continue to contribute to and participate in the on-going life and development of the State's extended family.
  • To develop close communication among the state's American Indian communities, with the State and federal governments, educational institutions, organizations, as well as the people of the State in general.
  • To promote understanding and knowledge about the history and culture of the American Indian communities of the State, in order to improve the quality of life for all people in the State of New Jersey.

 

Commission Members

Tahesha Way
Secretary of State - ex officio

Lewis J. Pierce, Jr.
Commission Chair
Representing the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe

Urie Ridgeway
Representing the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe

JoAnne Hawkins
Representing the Powhatan Renape Tribe

Barbara D. Jefferson
Representing the Powhatan Renape Tribe

Steven Burton
Representing the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation

Eileen DeFreece
Representing the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation

Vacancy
Representing the Inter-Tribal People

Vacancy
Representing the Inter-Tribal People

Member Biographies

 

 


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