History prevails in a single act of reconciliation June 4th, 2022 as the Sloat family reflects on the importance of a land deed held in their family for generations.
It is with humility and thanks that the Zamboni and Snyder families, descendants of Stephen Sloat, are returning an incredibly important Deed back to its rightful owners, the Ramapough-Munsee Lenape Nation.
This Deed purports to convey title to a tract of land called Pothat to one Wynnant (or Winant) van Gelder, by several members of the Ramapough Lenape Nation (named as Manis, Wactan, Sewes, Ayco and Nakama). Pothat is identified as being in Orange County in the Province (or colony) of New Jersey and today is mostly likely parts of the Towns of Ramapo and Suffern, New York, and the Townships of Mahwah and Ringwood, New Jersey. The Deed was originally made on March 7,1737. There is no recitation of consideration (payment) in the Deed as compensation for it. Van Gelder subsequently transferred his rights to one Isaac van Dusan on June 13, 1747, who then assigned the Deed to Stephen Sloat on June 3, 1763.
After the American Revolution, on September 13, 1785, one of the two witnesses to the original signing of the Deed appeared before a judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in what was then Orange County, New York, that the signers appeared to have signed the document as their voluntary act. This was needed so that the Deed could be recorded in the office then recognized as the designated land records office.
This document shows that the Ramapough-Munsee Lenape Nation has legal right to this land.
Jack Zamboni, an Episcopal priest, has taken the lead for the Sloat-descended families in returning this Deed, doing the repair work that beneficiaries of settler colonialism should be doing all across this country. This return does not cure the atrocities of genocide, land theft and slavery that indigenous people of this land experienced, which can never be made right. However, repair work can be done so that settlers and Indigenous nations may start to live freely together here and now.
The Ramapo are eternally grateful to the Zamboni and Snyder families for bringing to light a document which holds the historical truth, in such a profound way, as to be able to end the cultural deprivation of the Ramapough Munsee Lunaape People, a deprivation which can only be described as quiet Genocide. The profundity of the return of the actual document, this Deed, will quantify the truth of history and the part the Ramapough have played in it. The return of the Deed is a blessing and reaches a height to which all Americans of good conscience can arise. We are grateful to the Rev. Zamboni and his family for restoring our faith in the goodness of the American people as we receive this unprecedented blessing of the original Deed of the Pothat tract and the return toward dignity of the long-suffering Ramapough Munsee Lunaape Nation.
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