- Ramapough Mountain Indians
The Ramapough Mountain Indians (also known as Ramapo Mountain Indians or the Ramapough Lenape Nation) are a group of approximately 5,000 [cite news|last=Kelly|first=Tina|title=New Jersey Tribe Member Dies After Police Shooting at a Back-Roads Party|work=
New York Times|date= 2006-04-11|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/11/nyregion/11tribe.html] people living around the Ramapo Mountainsof northern New Jerseyand southern New York. Their tribal office is located on Stag Hill Road in Mahwah, New Jersey. As of January 2007, the Chief of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation is Dwaine Perry. [ [http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1168582029225080.xml&coll=1&thispage=2 Lenape family sues over deadly shooting] , " The Star-Ledger", January 12, 2007]
Until the 1970s, the tribe was frequently referred to as the "Jackson Whites", which, according to legend, was shorthand for "Jacks and Whites". Folk belief was that they were descendants of runaway and freed slaves ("Jacks" in
slang) and whites (including Dutch settlers and Hessian soldiers) who had supported the English during the American Revolution. They fled to frontier areas of the mountains after the end of the war. There is no documented proof of slaves, freed or runaway, nor of Hessian soldiers' marrying into the tribe.
The group reject this name and its associated legends as pejorative. On July 30, 1880, The Bergen Democrat was the first newspaper to print this term. As an article written in 1911 pointed out, this was a title of contempt. The Mountain People themselves didn't recognize this name, it being used only among their neighbors. [Bischoff, Henry & Kahn Mitchell, 1979. "From Pioneer Settlement to Suburb, a History of Mahwah, New Jersey 1700-1976",A. S. Barnes and Co., p. 210] New Jersey Historian David Cohen found that the old stories about these people were legends, not history. He stated, "It became increasingly obvious that, not only was the legend untrue, it was also the continuing vehicle for the erroneous and derogatory stereotype of the Mountain People". Cohen, David Steven, "The Ramapo Mountain People", New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1974, p. 197, inside cover, p. 74] Although Cohen took credit for this statement, Miles Merwin documented this in "The Jackson Whites" published in 1963 [Merwin, Miles, 1963. "The Jackson Whites", "Rutgers Alumni Monthly" 42, p. 29-30] .
"The Ramapough have been repeatedly and consistently identified as an Indian entity since 1900 by historians, anthropologists, various other scholars, journalists, and federal and state Reports." [Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-6, file 6_4.pdf p. AR029381 (available as a matter of public record from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)] The Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation are described as the descendants of the
Lenape(including the Hackensack, Tappan and Haverstraw peoples), and the Munsee(Minisink) people, with varying degrees of Tuscarora, African, Dutch, and other Caucasian ancestry [Pritchard, Evan T., "Native New Yorkers The Legacy of the Algonquin People of New York" p. 265–271] . The Ramapough also have common ancestry with the Stockbridge-Munseeand the Brothertown Indiansof Wisconsinaboriginal American [ http://www.brothertownindians.org/Genealogy.html , see Joost deGroat Genealogy] . The Ramapough claim that their ancestral language was Munsee, but the community was known to have spoken English and Jersey Dutchin the past, and speak English todayKraft, Herbert C., 1986. "The Lenape - Archaeology, History, and Ethnography", New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, N.J. p. 241, see Quiripi] .
In August 2006, Governor
Jon Corzineformed the New Jersey Commission of Native American Community Affairs. Their task was to investigate issues of civil rights, education, employment, fair housing, environmental protection, health care, infrastructure and equal opportunity confronting New Jersey's three indigenous Native American tribes and other New Jersey residents of Native American descent. The report was delivered on December 19, 2007 and cited "lingering discrimination, ignorance of state history and culture, and cynicism in the treatment of Indian people". [ [http://www.nj.gov/governor/pdf/Native_American_Committee_Report.pdf Commission Meetings And Public Hearings ] ]
Dispute over origins
A number of local historians and genealogists have written about the Ramapough people. Their origins are still considered controversial by some. Below is a list of some of these people and a summary of their findings.
Noted scholar on New Jersey's native people,
Herbert C. Kraftstated, "The origins of these people are very controversial, but it is clear that some are descended from local Munsee-speaking Indians who moved into the isolated Ramapo Mountains seeking a haven from the Dutch and English settlers in the latter half of the seventeenth century. It is theorized that many Esopusjoined with the Ramapough Mountain Indians of New Jersey following the wars, as some Wappingers had done after Kieft's War in 1643. Kraft says about Cohen's claim, "Cohen acknowledges that a gap exists in the genealogical record between about 1790-1830 that prevented his assembling with exactitude individual relationships between most of the Hackensack Valley settlers and those of the Ramapo Mountains". [Kraft, Herbert C., 2001. "The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage", Lenape Books p. 562:58] Kraft was not able to establish a genealogical connection between the present-day Ramapough and colonial-era Indian tribes. Evan T. Pritchard, a professor of Native American history and of Micmac (Algonquin) descent wrote, "The Ramapough, or 'mountaineer Munsee', on the other hand, never disappeared. Their people still occupy the southwest portion of the point of that projectile which is Rockland County, on all sides of Ramapo Mountain. Ramapough means 'slanting rock'...the main Ramapough Lenape villages in New York were Johnsontown, Furmanville, Sherwoodville, Bulsontown, Willowgrove, Sandyfields, and Ladentown. Better known, however, as Native American strongholds, are the towns just south of the border, namely Hillburn, Stagg Hill, and Ringwood. Whites have always tried, and continue to try to portray the Ramapough as foreigners: Dutch, blacks, Tuscarora, Gypsies, or Hessians. However, they are the only actual non-foreigners to be found still living in community in and around New York’s metropolitan region". [Pritchard, Evan T., "Native New Yorkers The Legacy of the Algonquin People of New York", Council Oak Books, LLC, 2002, pp. 265-271] Roger D. Joslyn, a certified genealogist with over 30 years' experience in the New York and New Jersey area (and one of only 50 people in the world recognized as a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists), submitted a certified report to the BAR tracing the Indian ancestry of the Ramapough tribe to the 1700s. ["Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination", CD-6, file 6_4.pdf p. AR029374 (available as a matter of public record from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)] cite news|author=Catalano, Albert J. and Plache, Matthew J.|date= 2006-04-30|title=The case for Ramapough tribal status|publisher=North Jersey Media|url=http://www.bergen.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk0MDYmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTY5MjY1MTUmeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkxNA=] . John "Bud" Shapard, the former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, went on record supporting the Ramapoughs, stating their case for Federal recognition as a Native American tribe was "well-documented". The Ramapough claim to Indian tribal heritage is disputed by the historian David S. Cohen. Cohen is employed as a Research Associate at the NJ Historical Commission. According to Cohen, his genealogical research "established that their ancestors included free black landowners in New York Cityand mulattoes with some Dutch ancestry who were among the first pioneers to settle in the Hackensack RiverValley of New Jersey". [Cohen, David Steven, 1995. "Folk Legacies Revisited", New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 18-19] .
Cohen's work was criticized by two of the foremost genealogists in the United States, Alcon Pierce and Roger Joslyn. "Cohen is the only person who has ever concluded the Ramapough Mountain Indian Tribal members do not have Indian heritage." When Cohen was contacted by Roger Joslyn and WWOR-TV in 1995 to discuss his claims, he refused to respond. [Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-6, file 6_10.pdf p. AR029389 & AR029620 respectively (available as a matter of public record from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)] Cohen states that "gaps in the genealogical records and the fact that the federal censuses for 1790-1830 are missing prevent establishing positively the exact relationship between many of the these colored families in the mountains, and the earlier colored families of the Hackensack River Valley." The State of New Jersey prohibited free blacks from owning any land. [ [http://www.slavenorth.com/newjersey.htm Slavery in New Jersey ] ] Cohen states that there is "an oral tradition of Indian ancestry among the Ramapo Mountain People as early as the eighteenth century." Cohen also states that "Some Indian mixture is possible, however, because Indian and colored interracial matings probably were not recorded in the Dutch Reformed Churches." [Cohen 1974 p. 110] . Cohen had no professional credentials in genealogy, and the BIA found much of Cohen's genealogical work lacking. Contrary to Cohen's statements, "The
United States Department of Justiceacknowledged in court that the Ramapough are Indians." Benson Lossing, in his book [Benson J. Lossing, "Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution Volume I, chapter XXXII", Harper Brothers, New York, 1859 ] "Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution Volume I, chapter XXXII", dated 1850 wrote "Along the sinuous Ramapo Creek, before the war of the Revolution broke out. and while the ancient tribe of the Ramapaughs yet chased the deer on the rugged hills which skirt the valley, iron-forges were established, and the hammer-peal of spreading civilization echoed from the neighboring crags." Edward J. Lenikis an archeologist and author of "Indians in the Ramapos". Lenik writes that "The archaeological record indicates a strong, continuous and persistent presence of Indian bands in the northern Highlands Physiographic Providence-Ramapos well into the 18th century. Other data, such as historical accounts, record the presence of Indians in the Highlands during the 19th and 20th centuries. Oral traditions, and settlement and subsistence activities are examined as well. Native American people were a significant element among the primary progenitors of the Ramapo Mountain People..." [Lenik, Edward J., 1999. "Indians in the Ramapos", The North Jersey Highlands Historical Society ISBN 0-9675706-0-3 pp. 1-2] C.A. Weslager, past-president of the Eastern States Archaeological Federation, stated in his book "Magic Medicines of the Indians", "In the early and middle part of the nineteenth century the Indian descendants were largely found in the northern counties- Warren, Morris, Sussex, and Passaic." [ C.A. Weslager, 1973. "Magic Medicines of the Indians", The Middle Atlantic Press p. 124] He further wrote, "The people of the northern counties were descended from Delawares and Munsie, with Tuscarora admixture. The Tuscarora, members of a southern tribe, migrated to New York state to join the Six Nation Iroquois, but a number of migrating families settled in New Jersey." James M. Van Valenwas a lawyer, a Bergen County Judge, and a teacher in the late 19th century. In his book on Bergen County, he stated, "The Hackensacky Indians were later known as the Ramapo Indians, but are now known as the Jackson Whites." [ James M. Van Valen, 1900. "History of Bergen County, N. J.", (N. Y., 1900), New Jersey Publishing & Engraving Co.] William Harlan Gilbert, Jr.was an anthropologist with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.. In 1948 he wrote, "The Jackson Whites are a mixed blood group, descendants of white, Indian, and in some areas Negro ancestors." [ William Harlan Gilbert, jr, 1948. " [http://www.gilbert1948.webs.com Surviving Indian Groups of the Eastern United States] ", (D. C., 1949), United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.] John W. DeForest, historian, wrote in his book "History of the Indians of Connecticut from the Earliest Known Period to 1850", published in 1851, "The Ridgefield clan called themselves the Ramapoo Indians. About the beginning of the last century they were under the government of a Sachem named Katonah. On 10 October 1708, Chief Katonahand his people sold their land for 100 pounds. The tract was estimated to contain convert|20000|acre|km2, no reservation was made, and the Ramapoos went their way into the wide world, to seek a home where it might be found." [ John W. DeForest, 1851. "History of the Indians of Connecticut from the Earliest Known Period to 1850", Connecticut Historical Society] Edward F. Pierson, published "The Ramapo Pass" in 1915, and cited "a tribe of the Delaware called the Ramapos once inhabited this area. These Ramapos were sufficiently numerous to cope with the Mohawks". [ Edward F. Pierson, 1915. "The Ramapo Pass"] Foster H. Seville, Ethnologist of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (now called The George Gustav Heye Center), examines and authenticates two intact dugout canoes found in Witteck Lake, near Butler, N.J., as Ramapo origin, possibly 1,000 years old. They were exhibited in the American Museum of Natural Historyin N.Y.C. and in Hackensack, N.J. Saville stated "The Ramapos were a branch of the Hackensack Indian, who in turn were of the Councils of the Delaware". [ "The New York Times", December 20,1923.] Another intact Dugout Canoe was found in 1911 in Bethel, Connecticutafter a drought, possibly Ramapo, and is now a part of the anthropology collections at the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut. [ [http://www.mnh.uconn.edu/underwater/Dugout.html CT Underwater Archaeology-Dugout Canoe ] ]
The Stockbridge Munsee Community of Wisconsin, The Munsee-Delaware Nation of
Canada, and the Six Nations of Canada have all urged the US Government to recognize the Ramapough based on the historical records. Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-2, file 2_4_Part02.pdf p.12 (available as a matter of public record from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)]
As a response to the publication of "The Ramapo Mountain People", which disputes the Native American origins of the Ramapoughs, the tribe approached New Jersey Assembly member
W. Cary Edwardsto seek state recognition. After several months of research, Edwards and Assemblyman Kern introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 3031 (ACR3031) on May 21, 1979. ACR3031 passed in the Assembly on January 3, 1980 and in the Senate on January 7, 1980.
Edwards later stated that much of the debate in the vote for recognition revolved around the validity of the Cohen book, and said, "It was necessary to prove to individual legislators that Cohen's book was without factual foundation." ACR3031 called for Federal recognition of the Ramapoughs, but is non-binding in that regard. Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-2, file 2_4_Part01.pdf pp.138-141 AR005026 through AR005029 (available as a matter of public record from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)] The State of New Jersey recognized the Ramapoughs as an American Indian tribe. [ [http://www.state.nj.us/state/american_indian/mo/index.html New Jersey Department of State web page] , retrieved January 22, 2006]
The New York State Gaming Association web site says that the Ramapoughs were not recognized as a tribe, [ [http://www.racing.state.ny.us/indian/FAQ.html#FAQ5 New York State Racing and Wagering Board] FAQ, last updated November 24, 2004; retrieved January 24, 2006] but the federal
Bureau of Indian Affairscites a 1980 recognition by resolution of the New York State Legislature. [ [http://www.bartlconsult.de/bc/proseminar/literatur/Ramasum.htm BIA petition] , retrieved February 3, 2006.]
In the proposed finding by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in response for the Ramapoughs' request for federal recognition, the BIA did not find proof of ancestry to a historical Native American Tribe::"In making this Final Determination, the BIA has reviewed the evidence used to prepare the Proposed Finding, the RMI response to the Proposed Finding, and additional research conducted for the Final Determination by BIA staff. None of the interested party or third party comments were directed to the specific genealogies of the RMI progenitor families. None of the interested party or third party comments provided substantive proof that the earliest proven RMI ancestors descended from a historical tribe of North American Indians. Therefore, the third-party comments were not directly pertinent to criterion 83.7(e)." :...:"None of the outside observers cited in the RMI Response provided documentation of actual tribal descent. Statements of generically "Indian" characteristics are not equivalent under the 25 CFR Part 83 regulations to documented descent from "a historical Indian tribe or from historical Indian tribes which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity." Statements concerning more general "Indian" descent are not in themselves adequate to meet criterion 83.7(e), and must also be evaluated in the full context of the available evidence." :..:"In conclusion, the origins and parentage of the earliest genealogically proven ancestors of the petitioner are not known. The petitioner has not demonstrated that their earliest documented ancestors were members of a historical North American Indian tribe, nor has the petitioner documented that their earliest proven progenitors descended from any known historical tribe of North American Indians. Without documentation, the BIA cannot make an assumption, on the basis of late 19th-century and early 20th-century ascriptions, that these unknown RMI ancestors were members of a historical North American Indian tribe. The petitioner has not presented acceptable evidence that the RMI descend from a historical Indian tribe, or from tribes which amalgamated and functioned as a single unit, either as individuals or as a group." [ [http://www.bartlconsult.de/bc/proseminar/literatur/Ramasum.htm Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Final Determination against Federal Acknowledgment of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc.] Criterion 83.7(e)]
Before 1870, the State of New Jersey Census grouped the population into three categories - White, Black (free), and Black (slave). In 1870, New Jersey began recording Native Americans and 16 were documented. [ [http://mapmaker.rutgers.edu/REFERENCE/Hist_Pop_stats.pdf Population Division Working Paper No. 56 ] ] Herbert C. Kraft Kraft, Herbert C., 2001. "The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage", Lenape Books p. 564:66] stated "The Ramapough petitioned for federal recognition on August 14, 1978. In April of 1993, Kraft, Herbert C., 2001. "The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage", Lenape Books p. 564:66] the opponents of Ramapo recognition led by casino owner
Donald Trumpand two Bergen CountyRepresentatives charged that "the Ramapo would bring in Indian gaming associated with organized crime." [ "Calculated Gamble; Trump cries foul over Indian casinos," Newsday (May 4, 1993 City Edition): Business Section, p. 41] The agency rejected the petition on December 8,  . [http://www.bartlconsult.de/bc/proseminar/literatur/Ramasum.htm Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Final Determination against Federal Acknowledgment of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc.] , accessed January 14, 2007] On November 17, 1993, US Member of Congress Robert Torricelliand Marge Roukemaannounced in the media that the Ramapough had been denied recognition by the BIA. The draft report had not yet been reviewed by the Assistant Secretary. The Ramapough requested an investigation and were ignored. The Ramapough, who are opposed to gambling, are now appealing the BIA's decision.
* [http://www.state.nj.us/state/archives/american_indian/ramapough.html Ramapough Mountain history (State of New Jersey)]
* [http://www.northjerseyhistory.org/pubs/pubs.htm Indians in the Ramapos: Survival, Persistence & Presence]
* [http://www.ramapoughlenapenation.org The Official Tribal Website of the Ramapough]
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