A butterfly lands on a wild Columbine plant at the

Black Creek Site.






















Our friends, the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape of Bridgeton, NJ, conduct a prayer ceremony at the Black Creek Site in this photo taken by

Greg Werkheiser at the 2007 grand opening.







A field view of the Black Creek Site in the Vernon Valley




Hammer stones, primitive tools, and spear points found at the

Black Creek Site



















Artifacts from the Black Creek Site





After the Black Creek Site was nominated for the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, and despite specific advice from the State Historic Preservation Office and numerous archaeologists not to dig up the site, geologist Philip LaPorta, contracted and paid by the Township of Vernon, forged ahead using an invasive and destructive backhoe.







Native Americans from South Jersey and Pennsylvania gathered at the site while LaPorta did his backhoe dig.








On the ill-fated September 11, 2001, a group including Rick Patterson, Jessi Paladini, and Rita Pentenreider of Highland Lakes; archaeologist Cara Blume of Delaware; Chief Mark Gould, Tribal Council Leader Urie Ridgeway and Pat Rossello of the Bridgeton Lenape; Earl Evans of the Haliwa-Suponi Tribe of South Carolina; and Attorney Greg Werkheiser of Washington, D.C. (taking the photograph) went to Trenton for the hearing on the nomination of the Black Creek site for the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Little did they know that another historic but sad event would take place on that day, postponing the hearing on the nomination until December of that same year.







Society President Jessi Paladini, Rick Patterson, Deb Israel, Greg Werkheiser, Rick Affleck, Barbara Maneri, and Earl Evans of the Black Creek Site preservation team accept the 2002 Historic Preservation Award for preserving and listing the Black Creek Site onto the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Presenting the award at the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton are state officials on the left and right.


2002 NJ Historic Preservation Awards.pdf





Many Native Americans such as Steve King, an Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge, SD,  visit the Black Creek Site annually as a homage to  the lost home of the Lenni Lenape, New Jersey’s first people. Lenape from the United States and Canada have visited the Black Creek Site as home.

 

Black Creek Site

Facts about the

Black Creek Site


The Black Creek Site in Vernon Township is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. The site is one of only three Native American sites n New Jersey listed on the historic registers.


More than 6,000 artifacts dating back 10,000 years were found at the Black Creek Site. These artifacts represent the Early Archaic to the Late Woodland Periods.


The Nanticoke Lenni Lenape Indians of New Jersey joined efforts with local residents to nominate and preserve the Black Creek Site.


Native Americans from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Canada have visited the Black Creek Site, making the Black Creek Site the unifying force for Lenape people throughout the United States and Canada.


Pro bono attorneys from the prestigious Washington D.C. law firm of Piper Rudnick donated more than $600,000 in legal services for the preservation of the Black Creek Site.


It took more than 25 legal and legislative hearings before the Black Creek Site was listed on the historic registers and preserved.


The Black Creek Site preservation team won an award from the Sate of New Jersey in 2002.


The Vernon Township Historical Society thanks Dorothy Guzzo, director of the NJ Historic Preservation Office, and her staff for their dedication and effort in making the Black Creek Site a New Jersey and National Register listed site.






Greg Werkheiser


Greg, a Washington D.C. attorney, represented us pro bono. It was his first year as an attorney, just out of law school. For his work, he received the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award. Greg gave us more than $650,000 in legal representation. He was invaluable to us.

Thank you, Greg!






Chief Mark Gould of the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape Indians of New Jersey, which helped in the preservation effort of the Black Creek Site





Chief Mark Gould





Urie Ridgeway, a member of the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape Tribal Council, was the first of the Lenape tribe to visit Vernon Township to see the Black Creek Site. Society president Jessi Paladini  invited Ridgeway to Vernon to see the site and the artifacts, and he and the Lenape soon joined the preservation effort.




















BLACK CREEK LOGO


Black Creek is one of only four American Indian sites listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. The site represents 10,000 years of American Indian cultural history in New Jersey.


The background of the logo is a photograph of an actual Early Archaic projectile point found at Black Creek, an artifact left behind by the first known people at the site in 8,000 B.C.


The point is made of a rare green Wallkill Valley flint, and it represents the hunting and stone tool making aspects of the site. The Black Creek Site represents five hundred generations of human history from the Early Archaic Period to the Late Woodland Contact Period with Europeans (8,000 BC–1700 AD).


LINKS ABOUT THE

BLACK CREEK SITE:

  1. The Archaeology Channel

  2. National Public Radio Interview

  3. N.J. Historic Preservation Award

  4. Nanticoke Lenni Lenape Indians of New Jersey

  5. Black Creek Site_NJHT Grant.pdf

  6. NJLegislature_Awards_BlackCreek.pdf