Sweetwater Cultural Center

Sweetwater Cultural Center

In 2019, Sweetwater Cultural Center was founded by Ramapough Lenape leaders in Rockland County. It was conceived as the first indigenous people’s embassy on Turtle Island (North America).  

The center was a gift and it sits on the property of the former Stony Point Presbyterian Church. This gift was a carefully planned response by the Hudson River Presbytery to its repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery – a body of church law dating to the fifteenth century that mandated Christian dominance worldwide and offered an open invitation to Christians confiscate lands of indigenous and native peoples.  

The goals: Function as an indigenous peoples mission to the UN to advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their allies; Sweetwater Cultural Center is envisioned as a place to educate the descendants of European Settlers of the truth and reality as it has been experienced by the ancestors of Indigenous Peoples; and a place to preserve and protect the culture and practices of ceremonies among Indigenous Peoples.  

This collaboration between the Hudson River Presbytery and the Ramapough Lenape leadership could not have happened without the strong relationship of confidence nurtured by Stony Point Center staff over a period of more than five years, which included participating in Tobacco ceremonies, showing up in court when Ramapough leaders were targeted for their work protecting ceremonial lands, sharing garden space to feed Ramapough families, and providing firewood and other supplies when needed.