'Appalled' by Whites' Land-Grab, NYC Man Returning $4M Home

Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois transferring deed to Lenape nonprofit
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2016 3:03 PM CST
Updated Dec 19, 2016 2:03 AM CST
NYC Man: Only 'Right' to Give My $4M Home Back to Tribe
Before the Europeans came, the Lenapes lived here.   (Getty Images/ManuelVelasco)

"One day, as I was walking toward the Hudson, I turned north off Christopher St. onto one-block Weehawken St., the shortest street in Manhattan. I saw that No. 6 was for sale. Like a long-lost wanderer in the desert, I had discovered my oasis." So wrote Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois for the Villager in October 2006 of 6 Weehawken St., which he bought with the help of his famed mother, sculptor Louise Bourgeois, that year for $2.2 million. It's now worth $4 million, and the New York Post reports he's giving the 3-floor West Village home away. Or, more specifically, giving it back—to the Lenape tribe, the Native Americans who originally occupied Manhattan—by transferring the deed to a nonprofit under the tribe's control.

"I have been generally appalled that the land that the city is on has been taken by whites," he tells the Post. "This building is the trophy from major theft. It disgusts me ... The right thing to do is to return it." In the Villager article, Bourgeois indicated his plan was to morph the structure into both a home and a museum honoring water. But the Post explains a 2011 meeting with a Cree Indian from Manitoba during the Occupy Wall Street protests led to an intro to Anthony Jay Van Dunk, a chief of the Ramapough Indians who make up part of the Lenape Nation. Van Dunk had the idea of turning 6 Weehawken into a "patahmaniikan, or a prayer house," and Bourgeois was on board. What will still remain: Mother Louise's Chelsea townhouse, which eases NYC's relative dearth of artist's house museums, as the New York Times reported in January. (A dam's removal helps Mohawks reclaim their fishing grounds.)

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