The History exhibit begins with a broad overview of how Native lands were acquired by the federal government across the United States. This lays the groundwork for understanding the particular facets of environmental justice when it comes to Indigenous communities. The lens then zooms in to New Jersey, outlining the histories of encounter between colonists and Native and Black peoples. Histories of extraction close the section with a synopsis of Ringwood’s industrial history and its impact on the Ramapough.
This chapter attempts to decolonize how the history of the region and its Indigenous populations is presented. Research about Indigenous history and contemporary communities has been criticized for serving to advance the "politics of colonial control” (Cochran et al., 2008, p.22). Researchers, from a number of different disciplines, have treated people as “subjects or informants and not as colleagues, sensationalized problems in the communities in their publications, and used Native people’s blood samples for unauthorized projects” (Hoover, 2017, p.130). The writing of histories has long been informed by colonial perspectives, and often that is the only archive available to researchers. In more recent years, Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) scholars have pointed to often unconsidered and neglected resources that can broaden the archive to include “tribal repositories and oral histories and to consider texts written by native people rather than limiting their studies to representations of Native peoples as they were imagined by colonists” (Pleasant, Wiggington, and Wisecup, 2018, p.408). Such work is much needed to correct misrepresentations and absences that continue to affect living communities today.
The exhibit contains several timelines outlining “Native American Land, Laws, and Policies” alongside the “Industrial History in Ringwood.” Graphic spreads illustrate the “Told” and “Untold” histories of the region, bringing to light forgotten histories and “anonymous” peoples who have long been connected to this landscape.
Anita Bakshi, Kathleen Hammerdahl