communipaw massacre

In the letter written to Gov. Murphy in 2020 by the tribal representative of the State of NJ Commission of American Indian Affairs supporting the Liberty State Park Protection Act, the commission points to the location's historical significance and as the site of tragedy where the Pavonia Massacre (aka Communipaw Massacre) took place. 

On February 25, 1643, as a retaliation for not accepting the demand to pay tribute to Gov. Kieft of New Netherlands, the Dutch soldiers killed 120 Lenape people and burned down the camps in Communipaw. This massacre started many more violent encounters between the Lenape people and the Dutch settlers, and they will eventually be known as Kieft's War in what is now New York and New Jersey.

During our research, we concluded that the exact location was not something we could find without expertise. The letter above mentions the Caven Point Wild Life Habitat as the location. However, the Liberty State Park light rail station is where some other researchers have pointed to. We believe the difficulty is due to the changing coastline from then to now. 

Though the research came back short of concrete, we believe it is still important to share what we know and accept our capacity as artists. And we hope more people will do more in-depth research into the location and what happened so we can all learn more about the Lenape people and their stories.

Possible Site 1: Caven Point Wildlife Habitat

Caven Point Wildlife Habitat bulletin board, June 20, 2023

Pamphlet style sign made for park bulletin board

Possible Site 2: Liberty State Park Light Rail Station

Handmade ceramic sign

Installed on street sign at LSP station Park & Ride, June 21, 2023


As we remember and honor the community of Jersey City, we recognize that our city lies in Lenapehoking, the ancestral homeland of the Lenape diaspora. 

“The land upon which we gather is part of the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape, called “Lenapehoking.” The Lenape People lived in harmony with one another upon this territory for thousands of years. During the colonial era and early federal period, many were removed west and north, but some also remain among the continuing historical tribal communities of the region: The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation; the Ramapough Lenape Nation; and the Powhatan Renape Nation, The Nanticoke of Millsboro Delaware, and the Lenape of Cheswold Delaware. We acknowledge the Lenni-Lenape as the original people of this land and their continuing relationship with their territory. In our acknowledgment of the continued presence of Lenape people in their homeland, we affirm the aspiration of the great Lenape Chief Tamanend, that there be harmony between the indigenous people of this land and the descendants of the immigrants to this land, “as long as the rivers and creeks flow, and the sun, moon, and stars shine.”


Wayquay Ghostflower, Steven Burton, Sam Pesin, Dana Patton, Tina Senatore, and Duquann Sweeney

Made possible by the 2022 Individual Artist Fellowship program provided by the Jersey City Arts Council.