Greetings All My Relations,
I want to take this opportunity during National Native American Heritage Month to share with you a very special partnership formed between the Brothertown Indian Nation (BIN) and a group known as the Friends of Buttonhook Forest (FoBH).
The Tribal Council decided to enter into this historic partnership with a dedicated group of concerned citizen-neighbors that have been fighting for over ten years to preserve a local forest in Chappaqua New York located about 40 miles north of New York City. In 2022 the group became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and continued their efforts to raise money to purchase the forest, known as Buttonhook, from destruction.
The purpose of this partnership between BIN and FoBH is to purchase and preserve the 23-acre parcel known as Buttonhook Forest. A secondary and equally important goal of the partnership is to put the ownership and control of Buttonhook Forest in the hands of the Brothertown Indian Nation.
Buttonhook Forest is owned by the local Chappaqua Central School District (CCSD). The school district has been working with developers hoping to turn the property into a housing development for multi-millionaires and in the process has spent over $700,000.00 in site plans, engineering, and legal fees. The CCSD still does not have the permits needed to move forward and it’s likely it will never get the necessary permits.
Buttonhook Forest is a sacred site of important historical, cultural, archeological and environmental value for American Indians. The Buttonhook Forest can best be described as a ceremonial stone landscape. There are hand-laid stone monuments, serpent stone walls, ceremonial artifacts and stone markers identifying water ways. This site is also home to many different species of wildlife and is populated by box turtles, bobcats, foxes and owls. Environmental preservation; protecting the plants, animals and waterways beneath the Forest is an important reason by itself for trying to save the site from destruction.
I am sure you are wondering why this site is of particular importance to the BIN and why the Tribal Council entered into this partnership. It is likely, based upon historical information, that our ancestors traveled extensively through this area and no doubt attended ceremonies in this sacred place. It is possible the site may contain the remains of our ancestors and those of other tribes in the area. Buttonhook Forest should be preserved on behalf of all the tribes in the Northeast who once traversed this land. This site is an important part of U.S. history and part of the history of the American Indians in New England and the State of New York. This site holds many stories of our tribal ancestors and relatives who lived and died centuries ago. It is a piece of our story; the story of our ancestor’s trek from New York to Wisconsin. The BIN Tribal Council is taking action to do what it can to help protect and preserve this site for future generations of Brothertown Indians.
The property has been identified as a culturally significant site by several indigenous representatives including members of the Narragansett, Stockbridge-Munsee and the Ramapo Lenape Tribes. The native people who are involved in the effort to preserve Buttonhook Forest have welcomed our participation and offered us their support.
The Partnership composed of The Friends of Buttonhook Forest and the Brothertown Indian Nation, would not have been able to make a bid to purchase Buttonhook Forest without the financial backing from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) to the Brothertown Indian Nation. The Indian Land Tenure Foundation works with Indian tribes to acquire or reacquire land. The Indian Land Tenure’s motto is Indian Land in Indian Hands.
The Brothertown Indian Nation, in an exercise of its sovereign power, stepped forward to partner with the Friends of Buttonhook Forest to try and save this ceremonial stone landscape. The Partnership offered to purchase the site in a closed bid process that took place at the end of August. The only bidder in the closed bid process was the Partnership of the Brothertown Indian Nation and the Friends of Buttonhook Forest. Although, the Partnership bid over a million dollars and put down a good faith deposit in the amount of $100,000.00 cash at the time of the bid, the school has not agreed to the sale. Efforts to purchase the Buttonhook property by the Partnership are ongoing at this time.
To summarize, the Brothertown Indian Nation is engaged in the process of trying to save an irreplaceable sacred site and also become the owners and guardians of that important place in the land of our ancestors. Helping to preserve Buttonhook is an exercise of sovereignty that every Brothertown Indian can be proud of. For more information about Buttonhook Forest go to http://www.preservebuttonhook.org