Ramapough Mountain Indians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation
Total population
2,654 (1992 membership list[1])
Regions with significant populations
 United States: New Jersey, New York
English, formerly Munsee, Iroquoian languages, Dutch
Related ethnic groups

The Ramapough Mountain Indians (also spelled Ramapo), known also as the Ramapough Lenape Nation or Ramapough Lunaape Munsee Delaware Nation or Ramapo Mountain people, are a group of approximately 5,000[2] people living in and around the Ramapo Mountains of Bergen and Passaic counties in northern New Jersey and Rockland County in southern New York, about 25 miles (40 km) from New York City. They were recognized in 1980 by the state of New Jersey as the Ramapough Lenape Nation but are not recognized federally. Their tribal office is located on Stag Hill Road on Houvenkopf Mountain near Mahwah, New Jersey. Since January 2007, the chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation has been Dwaine Perry.[3]

The Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation descends allegedly largely from the Lenape, whose regional bands included the Hackensack, Tappan, Rumachenanck/Haverstroo, Munsee/Minisink and Ramapo people. They absorbed people with varying degrees of Tuscarora, African, and Dutch and other European ancestry.[4] The Lenape language in this area was Munsee, an Algonquian dialect. The Tuscarora spoke an Iroquoian language. After relations with European colonists began, ancestors of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation also spoke Jersey Dutch and English. Presently they speak English.[5][6] The Ramapough are working to restore the Munsee language among their members.[7]

The Ramapough Lenape Nation, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, and the Powhatan Renape Nation have a history of working together. As of May 2011, the three tribes formed the United States-recognized tribes of New Jersey.[8]

Petition for recognition[edit]

The Ramapough and two other tribes were recognized as Indian tribes in 1980 by the state of New Jersey by Resolution 3031. The New Jersey citation stated:

Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey (the Senate concurring): 1. That the Ramapough Mountain People of the Ramapough Mountains of Bergen and Passaic counties, descendants of the Iroquois and Algonquin nations, are hereby designated by the State of New Jersey as the Ramapough Indians.[9]

The tribe asked its New Jersey Assembly member, W. Cary Edwards, to seek state recognition. After several months of research, Edwards and Assemblyman Kern introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 3031 (ACR3031) on May 21, 1979. It passed the Assembly and was passed by the Senate on January 7, 1980.

Edwards said later that debate in the assembly related to a book written by historian David Cohen (see below); he noted that he and other endorsers of recognition had to demonstrate the historical basis of the Ramapough. At the time, the state had not developed its own criteria or regulations related to tribal recognition. The state resolution also requested federal recognition of the Ramapough, but is non-binding in that regard.[10] The state of New Jersey has also recognized the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape and the Powhatan Renape, descended from the Algonquian-speaking Lenape and Powhatan, respectively.[11] Because of increased issues related to Native Americans, the State of New Jersey created the Commission on Native American Affairs by P.L.1134, c. 295, and it was signed into law on December 22, 1995, by Governor Christine Todd Whitman.[12]

The Ramapough Indians claim to have been recognized by the State of New York by Legislative Resolution 86 in 1979.[13] According to Alexa Koenig and Jonathan Stein, who have reviewed state recognition processes, New York does not have an official, separate process of recognition of Indian tribes and never recognized the Ramapough. It recognized the Shinnecock and one other tribe using independent criteria.[14]

In 2009 the New York legislature had a bill pending to recognize the Ramapough people as Native Americans.[15] It was never passed.

In 1978 the Ramapough Mountain Indians (RMI) filed a petition for federal recognition as a tribe. They did not submit a documented petition until April 23, 1990. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on June 15, 1990 responded with a letter outlining the deficiencies in the petition. During the process, it repeatedly offered to have representatives meet with the tribe to review topics of research, specifically court records and land deeds, for the period 1750-1820 in which records are scarce. The RMI submitted a partial response on January 28, 1991. A fully revised petition was determined to be ready for active consideration on March 5, 1992. The petition had active consideration status on July 14, 1992. In December 1993, the BIA issued its proposed finding, rejecting the tribe's petition. It granted the tribe an opportunity to respond, including extensions. It issued its Final Determination rejecting its petition on December 11, 1995. This Final Determination survived an internal BIA appeal in 1997 and a federal court appeal in 2001.

Earlier exonym[edit]

The Ramapo people were often referred to historically as the Jackson Whites, a term which they regard as being derogatory,[16] and which, according to legend, was either from the name of the Jackson White heirloom potato[17] or a distortion of Jacks and Whites, referring to their multiracial ancestry.[18] Partly because of the people's multiracial ancestry, many other people assumed they were descendants of runaway and freed slaves ("Jacks" in slang[citation needed]) and Caucasians. Over time, the latter were believed to have included Dutch settlers (represented by surnames common among the people) and later, Hessian soldiers (German mercenaries who had fought for the British during the American Revolution); that is, people who were considered suspect by the dominant British Americans.[19] The people supposedly fled to frontier areas of the mountains after the end of the Revolutionary War. Thousands of escaped slaves had gone to British-occupied New York City on the promise of freedom, and some left the city for more isolated areas to escape capture after the war. There is not any documentation of slaves, freed or runaway, nor of Hessian soldiers' marrying into the tribe.[18]

The group rejects this name and its associated legends as pejorative.[18][19][20] On July 30, 1880, The Bergen Democrat was the first newspaper to print the term Jackson Whites. A 1911 article noted it was used as a title of contempt.[20] Instead, they called themselves "The Mountain People".

The New Jersey historian David S. Cohen, who wrote his doctoral dissertation at Princeton about the Ramapough Mountain people, has confirmed that the old stories were legends, not history. He said the legend was untrue and was "the continuing vehicle for the erroneous and derogatory stereotype of the Mountain People".[21] He claims that some of the group's ancestors were multiracial, free Afro-Dutch who had migrated from lower Manhattan to the frontier and become landowners in the Tappan Patent during the seventeenth century.[21]


William Bond recorded Ramapough longhouses at the mouth of the Ramapo Pass.
Schuyler Patent by William Bond in 1710 of Mahwah.

A number of local historians, genealogists, and archeologists have written about the Ramapough people. Accounts have changed related to research that has revealed more archeological, historical, linguistic, and other evidence, as well as because of changed social attitudes. As with other multiracial peoples seeking recognition as Native American tribes, the Ramapough Mountain Indians have encountered differences of opinion of the significance of their real ethnic ancestry in contrast to cultural and community identity and political efforts to have them recognized as a distinct culture.

The historical tribe named the Ramapo was a Munsee-speaking group of the Lenape, an Algonquian language-speaking people who occupied a large territory throughout coastal areas of the mid-Atlantic states and along the Delaware River valley. Such groups were typically named after their geographic region. Early European colonists thought they were different peoples, but all were Lenape. Ramapo villages were recorded during the late seventeenth century in western Connecticut, near present-day Bethel and Ridgefield. In 1911 an intact dugout canoe was found underwater near Bethel and identified as possibly Ramapo; it is now held at the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at the University of Connecticut.[22] In 1923 Foster H. Seville, an ethnologist, authenticated two dugout canoes found in Witteck Lake, near Butler, New Jersey, as of Ramapo origin and possibly 1,000 years old. They were exhibited in the American Museum of Natural History and in Hackensack, New Jersey.[23]

During the early 1700s, the Ramapo in present-day western Connecticut had a sachem or chief named Katonah. Due to English colonists, they sold their land in the Ridgefield area, a territory estimated at 20,000 acres (81 km2), and relocated away.[24] The Ramapo migrated west and some eventually settled in the mountains in northeastern New Jersey and southwestern New York; this part of the Appalachian Mountains was named for them by colonists as the Ramapo Mountains.

The colonial Dutch referred to the Lenape Indian peoples whom they encountered in this mid-Atlantic region, along the lower Hudson and northern New Jersey areas, as the Hackensack, Tappan, Nyack, and Minsi; these names were from the Lenape words for the bands, who took the names associated with geographic places.[25] The archeologist Herbert C. Kraft says that some of the Ramapough lived in the mountains by the mid to late seventeenth century, and theorizes they were joined by remnants of the Esopus and possibly Wappinger bands after wars with the Dutch.[5] The Dutch allocated land from the Tappan Patent in the Hackensack Valley; it crossed what became the border between New York and New Jersey.

Wynant Van Gelder, the first European landowner in what became Sloatsburg in Rockland County, New York, was noted as having bought land from the Ramapough in 1738.[26] Ramapough Mountain Indians still live in the county, especially in Hillburn, New York.

When colonists entered the areas along Ramapo Creek to develop iron mines and works during the eighteenth century, they noted that Ramapough native people occupied the hills.[27] The founder of the iron mines brought in German and English workers, some of whose descendants settled in the area.

The historian David Cohen found that early settlers in the Hackensack Valley included "free black landowners in New York City and mulattoes with some Dutch ancestry who were among the first pioneers to settle in the Hackensack River Valley of New Jersey."[21] Among these were Augustine Van Donck, who bought land in the Tappan Patent in 1687. As the border between New York and New Jersey divided the area of the patent in 1798, Cohen theorized that some of these early free people of color relocated west into the mountains. (The surname Van Dunk is common among the Ramapough, as are DeGroat, DeFreese, and Mann.)[21] Cohen thought that, while some free blacks may have married Lenape remnant peoples in the area, the residents of the mountains developed not primarily with Indian culture but as multiracial people with European-American culture and rural traditions.[28] The origin of these surnames could also be from earlier relations with the Colonials. During the late 19th century, such Indians were said to use the names given by the Colonials instead of their real names because of superstition.[29]

Edward J. Lenik, a self-taught private archaeologist,[30] disagrees with Cohen's findings about African-European ancestry; he says,

While the Ramapough's origins are controversial, most historians and anthropologists agree that they (Ramapough) are the descendants from local Munsee-speaking Lenape (Delaware) Indians who fled to the mountains in the late seventeenth century to escape Dutch and English settlers. It is a well known fact that displacement of Indian tribes followed European Incursions in the region which resulted in the forced movement and resettlement of Indian peoples.[31]

Controversy over origins[edit]

The multiracial ancestry of the people in the mountains was noted by their European-American neighbors. Myths, as noted in the section on their name, were derived in part from theories of origins, as well as prejudice related to unions with African descendants because slavery had developed in the colonies as a racial caste. By the mid-nineteenth century, these multi-racial people were concentrated in and near the settlements of Mahwah and Ringwood, New Jersey and Hillburn, New York. Local histories documented traditions of mixed-race descendants from intermarriages with the Lenape in the mountains.[32]

During the twentieth century, some anthropologists classified such isolated mixed-race groups, who tended to be historically endogamous, as tri-racial isolates or simply as mixed bloods.[33] Alanson Skinner of the American Museum of Natural History in 1915 noted the multiracial character of the people in the Ramapo Mountains. He said that Indian descendants had mixed with Africans and Caucasians.[34]

European Americans assumed that Indians wanted only to assimilate to the majority culture and that intermarriage meant a weakening of their cultures; in addition, attitudes associated with slavery tended to classify people of mixed-race as black rather than Indian, regardless of their cultural affiliation. Whites in the Northeast assumed that Indian cultures had largely ended after centuries of interaction with European Americans. By contrast, numerous Native American tribes had a historic tradition of absorbing other peoples by marriage or adoption; people brought up within their cultures generally identified as Native Americans of particular tribes. Thus, during the period of urbanization, high rates of immigration, and suburban development throughout the New York metropolitan area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Ramapough Mountain Indians continued to live in their historic areas of settlement in the mountains and there maintained a rural culture.

Cohen noted in 1974 that, as the federal censuses of 1790-1830 were missing for this area, it prevented "establishing positively the exact relationship between many of these colored families in the mountains, and the earlier colored families of the Hackensack River Valley".[21] He noted the "tradition of Indian ancestry among the Ramapo Mountain People as early as the eighteenth century." Cohen also said, "Some Indian mixture is possible; however, Indian and colored interracial matings probably were not recorded in the Dutch Reformed Churches."[35]

Before 1870, the State of New Jersey's census had only three racial or ethnic categories for residents: White, Black (free), and Black (slave), the same categories as were used in the slave states. Census enumerators tended to use black as the category for any people of color, including Indians. New Jersey passed a gradual abolition law in 1804 to end slavery; children born to slave mothers were born free. The state retained slaves born before the law in an indentured status. By a law of 1846, it reclassified them as apprentices, "apprenticed for life". The last slaves in New Jersey were not freed until 1865 and passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. In 1870, New Jersey began recording Indians (Native Americans) as a separate category in its census; 16 were identified by census enumerators that year.[36]

A less common theory of ancestry was that the Ramapough were Indian people who had been held as slaves by colonists.[37]

With increasing interest and research in Native American history, a symposium was held during 1984 on the Lenape. James Revey (Lone Bear), then chairman of the New Jersey Indian Office, said that "Mountain Indians" were descendants of Lenape who had retreated into the mountains of western and northeastern New Jersey and southwestern New York during the colonial era.[38] Other scholars, such as Herbert C. Kraft, have documented that some Munsee-speaking Lenape relocated into the Ramapo Mountains to escape colonial encroachment.[5][39]

Kraft noted, as did Cohen (see below), that there was a gap 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."[40] In his own work, Kraft has not attempted to establish genealogical links between the present-day Ramapough and colonial-era Indian tribes.

According to Catalano and Planche, consultants for the tribe for its recognition process, Cohen's work has been criticized by the genealogists Alcon Pierce and Roger Joslyn.[41] Catalano said that Cohen had no professional credentials in genealogy, and that the BIA found much of his genealogical work lacking.[42]

Edward J. Lenik, an archeologist and author of a 1999 book about the Ramapo Indians, writes:

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...[43]

The historian Evan T. Pritchard (Micmac), wrote

The Ramapough, or "mountaineer Munsee", on the other hand, never disappeared. Their people still occupy the southwest portion of the point of Rockland County, on all sides of Ramapo Mountain. ... 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. ... The main Ramapough Lenape villages in New York were Hillburn, Johnsontown, Furmanville, Sherwoodville, Bulsontown, Willowgrove, Sandyfields, and Ladentown. Better known, however, as Native American strongholds, are the towns just south of the border, namely Stagg Hill [Mahwah] and Ringwood.[44]

The archeologist C.A. Weslager noted that the Delaware were joined in the eighteenth century by some migrating Tuscarora families migrating from South Carolina. They never continued to Iroquois country in New York, where most of the Tuscarora settled alongside the Oneida.[45]


The Ramapo Mountain Indians have had a chief and council form of government. In 1978 they organized a non-profit.[19] That year they filed a petition with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs of intent to gain federal recognition as a tribe. They further organized into clans for self-government: the Wolf, the Turtle and the Deer, related to their three main settlements of Mahwah and Ringwood, New Jersey; and Hillburn, New York.[19]

Chief Vincent Mann is the Turtle Clan chief.[46][47] An activist and educator, he has spoken at Ramapo College and Ohio's University of Dayton on the effects of toxic waste dumping and the Indigenous right to a healthy environment. He has specifically advocated against the Ford Motor Company's toxic dumping on Ramapough land and waters in Ringwood, New Jersey.[46] He created the Three Sisters Farm in Andover, New Jersey in an effort to heal through regenerative farming, cultural reclamation, and food sovereignty.[48]

Effort to gain federal recognition[edit]

During August 1978 the tribe filed a petition of intent for federal recognition.[49] Since then Native American activism has resulted in the development of casino gambling on tribal trust lands to generate revenue and assist economic development. The late twentieth-century efforts by landless eastern tribes to gain federal recognition have been opposed by parties resisting the potential casinos they might want to operate. Both private competitors, federally recognized tribes who operate their own facilities in states that allow gaming, and citizen groups concerned about the proliferation of gaming, have worked to resist increasing the number of casinos.

The Ramapough Mountain Indians submitted its petition for recognition with supporting documentation in 1990. Roger D. Joslyn, a certified genealogist and one of the consultants to the tribe in this process, has traced Ramapough members to people of the 18th century. He concluded that tribal members were descended from the historical Munsee tribe.[50][51]

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin, the Munsee-Delaware Nation of Canada, both Lenape nations;, and the Iroquois Six Nations of Canada, who had migrated from New York State during and after the American Revolution, filed statements included with the Tribe's petition encouraging the US Government to recognize the Ramapough.[52]

In April 1993, Donald Trump (a casino owner) and two Bergen County United States Representatives said that "the Ramapo would bring in Indian gaming associated with organized crime".[53] U.S. Representative Marge Roukema testified to the US Senate Subcommittee on Native American Affairs on October 5, 1993 about the Ramapough Lenape Indian efforts to gain recognition. She said that, since tribal representatives had approached her during the 1980s seeking a private federal bill for recognition, their "sole interest" appeared to be to establish casino gambling in Bergen County.[54] She said she feared that Indian gaming in New Jersey would bring organized crime with it.[54] On November 17, 1993, Roukema and U.S. Representative Robert Torricelli publicly announced that the Ramapough had been denied recognition by the BIA, although the draft final determination had not yet been reviewed by the Assistant Secretary of Interior. The Ramapough requested an investigation of the agency leak and were ignored.[10] The Ramapough do not currently possess any land as a reservation that could be used for a gambling site.

The BIA gave the Tribe an opportunity to respond to its Proposed Finding of December 8, 1993, which said its documented petition did not satisfy all the regulatory criteria.[55] It identified areas of weakness and provided extensions requested by the Tribe. Finally in December 1995, the agency issued its Final Determination, which concluded that the Ramapough Mountain Indians had failed to meet three of seven criteria for recognition; namely, that it did not provide adequate proof of descent from a historical tribe, nor of genealogical, social and political continuity since 1950. The latter two issues were of concern since 1950, when the BIA felt that the tribe had not demonstrated a distinct Indian culture different from its neighbors.[55] They said:

In making this Final Determination, the BIA has reviewed the evidence used to prepare the Proposed Finding, the RMI [Ramapough Mountain Indians] 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 that 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 that amalgamated and functioned as a single unit, either as individuals or as a group.[55]

The Ramapough activists, who claimed they were opposed to gambling, appealed the BIA's decision. On November 2001, the Ramapough presented their case to the Court of Appeals. The BIA conceded that the Ramapough are Native American:

At oral argument before the Court of Appeals, the BIA conceded that the RMI (Ramapough Mountain Indians) are Indians, but asserted that the Tribe provided no evidence of descent from the Aboriginal Lenape Indians, who are the only tribal group ever to have occupied the region.[56]

John "Bud" Shapard was the former chief of the Bureau of Research at the BIA from 1978-1987, when the regulations were written. Asked to review the Ramapough's case after the BIA declined their petition, in 1999 he said, "It's pretty clear they've got an Indian community as strong as some that have been recognized. There's no question about that."[57]

Alexa Koenig and Jonathan Stein wrote an article published in 2007 in which they reviewed the process of federal and state recognition, and factors affecting both. They noted the effect of the development of Indian gambling. They wrote,

The current political environment threatens to further slow the achievement of federal recognition, as legislators and citizens in various communities band together to oppose recognition for fear that newly recognized tribes will establish a casino in their community. This opposition is sometimes financed by competing Indian casinos, adding additional money and political muscle to an already uphill fight. Unfortunately, this is unfairly hindering recognition opportunities for longstanding tribes and standing in the way of such tribes acquiring much needed non-casino related benefits, such as federal grants and governmental immunities.[58]

They noted that many states had initiated their own processes of recognition of tribes and are building new relationships with the peoples. The Ramapough Lenape Indians had been recognized by New Jersey but not by New York, which as a policy matter does not separately recognize tribes.[59]

Recent events[edit]

In 1995, New Jersey established a Commission on American Indian Affairs (then termed the Commission on Native American Affairs) with two seats each for the recognized tribes of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, and the Powhatan Renape (the latter two groups are located in southern New Jersey.) In addition, two seats were reserved for Inter-Tribal Members, persons who belonged to other tribes but lived in New Jersey. The Commission has been placed in the Department of State.[12]

During the spring of 2006, Emil Mann, a Ramapough Lenape man, was killed by gunshots from a New Jersey State Parks Police ranger in a confrontation with people on all-terrain vehicles in Ringwood State Park. His family filed a civil suit against the state. Governor Jon Corzine's staff met with the Ramapough Lenape and other Native Americans in the state to identify problem areas and improve relations. The state investigated the shooting, and a grand jury indicted one of the rangers.[19]

During August 2006, Governor Corzine formed the New Jersey Committee on Native American Community Affairs to investigate issues of civil rights, education, employment, fair housing, environmental protection, health care, infrastructure and equal opportunity confronting members of New Jersey's three indigenous Native American tribes and other New Jersey residents of Native American descent.[60][61] The Committee's report was delivered on December 17, 2007 and cited "lingering discrimination, ignorance of state history and culture, and cynicism in the treatment of Indian people".[62]

State and federal officials have worked with the tribes on other issues related to their people. For instance, in preparation for the 2010 census, state and federal officials consulted with the recognized tribes on means to get accurate counts of their people. The Census Bureau has created local partnerships. It recognizes State Designated Tribal Statistical Areas, which are established by state consultation with local tribes to identify significant areas of American Indian populations outside reservations (these had not been examined during the twentieth century). In New Jersey, these are identified as Passaic and Bergen counties for the Ramapough Mountain Tribe, and Cumberland County for the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape.[63] The Rankokus Indian Reservation no longer qualifies, as the state has taken back much of the land it had earlier leased to the Powhatan Renape.

Tribal enrollment[edit]

The tribe has required members to be descended directly from an identified Ramapough parent listed in tribal records. People must provide certified birth certificates and documentation of at least three generations to a listed Ramapough ancestor.[64]

Environmental concerns[edit]

The tribe has experienced environmental controversies in relation to corporate efforts on or near their land.

Ford Motor Company paint contamination controversy[edit]

Members of the community have participated with litigation (Mann v. Ford) against the Ford Motor Company regarding poisoning from a former toxic waste landfill. Portions of this site were used during the 1970s as sites for affordable housing where many Ramapough people lived.[65]

During the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the Ringwood Mines landfill site as a Superfund site for cleanup. Ford had operated an automobile assembly plant in Mahwah and its contractors dumped industrial paints and other hazardous wastes in a landfill owned by the company in an area where many Ramapough Mountain Indians live. The EPA identified further remediation three more times as additional sludge sites were found. Following further investigation, The EPA returned the community to the Superfund list, the only site to be so treated.

During late winter 2006, some 600 Ramapough Lenape Indians, led by Turtle Clan chief Wayne Mann and with the aid of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., filed a mass tort suit (Mann v. Ford) against the "Ford Motor Company and its contractors, as well as the borough of Ringwood, for the dumping of toxic waste."[19] They were represented by Vicki Gilliam of The Cochran Group. The suit was filed about the time of publication of Toxic Legacy, a five-part investigative series by The Record, which had found lead and antimony levels in excess of 100 times the safety limit near some Ramapough residences.[19]

The paint sludge has been linked to contamination of food and water sources with lead and benzene. The contamination has been linked to nosebleeds, leukemia, and other ailments among the community.[66]

The HBO documentary Mann v. Ford (2011) examines the lawsuit.[67]

The EPA has directed the removal of an additional 47,000 tons of sludge and soil up to 2011, with cleanup continuing.[19]

The Pilgrim Pipeline and Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp[edit]

As of 2017, the tribe is fighting against the Pilgrim Pipeline.[68] Pilgrim Pipelines Holdings, LLC plans to run a duel pipeline through the tribe's land which would carry refined products like gasoline, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel and home heating oil north and Bakken formation crude oil south between Albany, New York and the Bayway Refinery on the Chemical Coast in Linden, New Jersey.[69]

The line would also pass through the Ramapo Mountains and Ramapo Pass. In solidarity with Standing Rock, tribal members founded the Split Rock Sweetwater protest encampment in Mahwah, New Jersey in 2016 near the New York border to protest the Pilgrim Pipeline.[70][71]

Representation in art, entertainment, and media[edit]


  • Mann v. Ford (2011) is a documentary about the lawsuit filed by the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation against Ford. It is regularly shown on HBO. Directed by Maro Chermayeff and Mica Fink, it features Paul Mann of the Ramapough and Vicki Gilliam of The Cochran Firm, which represented the tribe. It portrays the five years of the Ramapough pursuing the suit and how they reached settlement with the company.[72]
  • American Native (2013) is a documentary that details the Ramapough Lenape Nation's efforts to gain federal recognition as a Native American nation and the difficulties it has encountered due to loss of lands and records and alleged racism.[73]
  • The movie Out of the Furnace (2013) is a fictional drama dealing partly with communities living in the Ramapough Mountains, featuring Christian Bale and Zoe Saldana.[74][75] Tribal leaders and town officials from Mahwah urged a boycott of the movie due to negative depictions of the Ramapough Lenape Nation,[76] which Dwaine Perry termed a hate crime.[77] Relativity Media responded that the movie "is not based on any one person or group" and is "entirely fictional".[78] Nine members of the group, eight of whom have the surname DeGroat, which is given to the movie's antagonist, filed suit against the makers and other involved parties. They claimed that Out of the Furnace portrays a gang of criminals living in the Ramapo Mountains who are "lawless, drug-addicted, impoverished and violent".[79][80] On May 16, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge William Walls, in Newark, New Jersey, dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the movie did not refer directly to any of the plaintiffs.[81]


See also[edit]


  • Penford, Saxby Voulaer., "Romantic Suffern - The History of Suffern, New York, from the Earliest Times to the Incorporation of the Village in 1896", Tallman, N.Y., 1955, (1st Edition), Chapter 6 Ramapo Mountain Folk


  1. ^ "Reconsidered Final Determination Declining to Acknowledge that Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. Exists as an Indian Tribe", Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior, p. 16, accessed 12 July 2012
  2. ^ Kelly, Tina (April 11, 2006). "New Jersey Tribe Member Dies After Police Shooting at a Back-Roads Party". New York Times.
  3. ^ "Tribal Council". Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  4. ^ Pritchard, Evan T. (2002), Native New Yorkers: The Legacy of the Algonquin People of New York, Council Oak Books, pp. 265–271, ISBN 978-1-57178-135-2
  5. ^ a b c Kraft, Herbert C. (1986), The Lenape: Archaeology, History, and Ethnography, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ. p. 241, ISBN 978-0-911020-14-4
  6. ^ New Jersey Committee on Native American Community Affairs (December 17, 2007). "Report to Governor Jon S. Corzine". Scribd: 15. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  7. ^ "Ramapough Munsee Language - Ramapough - Munsee - Lunaapeew". Retrieved 2012-09-23.
  8. ^ "Resolution of Agreement Regarding Class III Gaming and Land Claims between the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, the Ramapough Lenape Nation, and the Powhatan Renape Nation". 2011.
  9. ^ Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 3031, State of New Jersey, filed January 8, 1980.
  10. ^ a b Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-2, file 2_4_Part01.pdf pp.138-141 AR005026 through AR005029 (available from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)
  11. ^ New Jersey Department of State web page. Retrieved January 22, 2006. Archived June 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b "New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs - About the Commission". New Jersey Department of State. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  13. ^ Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-6, file 6_4.pdf p. AR029381 (available as a matter of public record from the BIA by the Freedom of Information Act)
  14. ^ Alexa Koenig and Jonathan Stein, "Federalism and the State Recognition of Native American Tribes: A Survey of State-Recognized Tribes and State Recognition Processes across the United States", Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 48, 2007, p 101. Retrieved February 21, 2011. Note: On page 129, they note that the Ramapough Mountain Indians had not been recognized by the state of New York; only the Shinnecock and one other tribe have been.
  15. ^ Incalcaterra, Laura (September 6, 2009), "Ramapough Lenape seek state recognition, get boost from Rockland", The Journal News
  16. ^ Brecher, Jeremy (2015). Save the Humans?: Common Preservation in Action. Routledge. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-1-317-25253-5.
  17. ^ "Race of Real Mountaineers Living Near New York City". The Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, NY. 1907-08-18. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  18. ^ a b c "Ramapough Mountain People drawn into their own", St. Petersburg Times, March 18, 1976, p. 50.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h McGrath, Ben (March 1, 2010). "Strangers on the Mountain". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  20. ^ a b Bischoff, Henry & Kahn, Mitchell (1979), From Pioneer Settlement to Suburb, a History of Mahwah, New Jersey 1700-1976, A. S. Barnes & Co., p. 210 ISBN 978-0-498-02218-0
  21. ^ a b c d e Cohen, David Steven (1974), The Ramapo Mountain People, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, pp. 74, 197, ISBN 978-0-8135-1195-5
  22. ^ "Underwater Archaeology: Dugout Canoe", Connecticut Office of State Archeology, accessed 14 July 2012
  23. ^ The New York Times, December 20, 1923.
  24. ^ John W. DeForest, 1851. History of the Indians of Connecticut from the Earliest Known Period to 1850, Connecticut Historical Society
  25. ^ Ruttenber, Edward Manning; Clark, Lewis H. (1881). The History of Orange County. Philadelphia: Everts & Peck. p. 9.
  26. ^ Cornelia F. Bedell (November 1992). Bedell, Cornelia F. (ed.). Now and Then and Long Ago in Rockland County, New York. Historical Society of Rockland County. p. 323. ISBN 978-0-911183-40-5. The original deed, with the names of the five Indian chiefs - Manis, Wactau, Sonees, Ayco, Nakam - is still in the possession of the Sloat family.
  27. ^ Benson J. Lossing, Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution Volume I, chapter XXXII, Harper Brothers, New York, 1859
  28. ^ Cohen, David Steven, 1995. Folk Legacies Revisited, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 18-19
  29. ^ William Nelson, 1894. The Indians of New Jersey, The Press Printing and Publishing Company p. 41
  30. ^ Mantel, Barbara (October 12, 2003). "In Person; A Rocky Career Path". The New York Times.
  31. ^ Lenik, Edward J., 2011. Ramapough Mountain Indians: People, Places and Cultural Traditions, Ringwood, NJ: North Jersey Highlands Historical Society, pp. 1-4
  32. ^ James M. Van Valen (2010) [1900]. History of Bergen County, New Jersey. Nabu Press. pp. 181–182. ISBN 978-1-177-72589-7. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  33. ^ William Harlen Gilbert, Jr, 1948. Surviving Indian Groups of the Eastern United States, (D. C., 1949), United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
  34. ^ Alanson Skinner, 1915. Indians of Greater New York, The Torch Press, pp 98–99.
  35. ^ Cohen (1974) p. 110
  36. ^ "Population Division Working Paper No. 56", Historical Population Statistics, Rutgers University
  37. ^ Henry H. Goddard, The Vineland Training School Study, 1911. Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-5, file 6_4_2_Part01.pdf page AR023346 (available from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act) "But how [to] account for the Indian Blood that shows itself so conspicuously among this race today? Undoubtedly a large part of it comes from Indians who were formerly held as slaves."
  38. ^ Revey, James (1984). "The Delaware Indians of New Jersey, from Colonial Times to the Present". In Kraft, Herbert C.; Becker, Marshall Joseph (eds.). The Lenape Indian: A Symposium. Seton Hall University: Archaeological Research Center. ASIN B00116FOLC. The Mountain Indians included those Delaware Indians [Lenape] who in Colonial times retreated into the Pohacong and Schooley Mountains in northwestern New Jersey, and those Minisink, Pompton (Wappingers), Hackensack and Tappan Indians who remained in the mountains of the northeastern part of the state.
  39. ^ "Sociopolitical Structure". Setting the Record Straight: A Linguistic-Ethnographic Study On The True Identity of the Quinnipiac/Quiripi/Renapi Nation Structure. The Algonquian Confederacy of the Quinnipiac Tribal Council. Retrieved June 2, 2012. "The Munsee Bands protected the western half [of New England]. This evolved to include the Iroquois in the Dawnland Confederacy, and the Renapi contingency was known as the Wappinger-Mattabesec Confederation (i.e., Western CT, Eastern NY, and N. NJ). The Ramapo Mountain Region in N. NJ became a refugium after the forced removal of our ancestors began."
  40. ^ Kraft, Herbert C., 2001. The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage, Lenape Books p. 562:58
  41. ^ Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-6, file 6_10.pdf p. AR029389 & AR029620 respectively (available from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)
  42. ^ Catalano, Albert J.; Plache, Matthew J. (April 30, 2006). "Opinion: The case for Ramapough tribal status". North Jersey Media Group. Archived from the original on May 21, 2006.
  43. ^ Lenik, Edward J., 1999. Indians in the Ramapos, The North Jersey Highlands Historical Society ISBN 0-9675706-0-3 pp. 1-2
  44. ^ Pritchard, Evan T. (2002). Native New Yorkers: The Legacy of the Algonquin People of New York. San Francisco: Council Oak Books. pp. 265–66, 270–71. ISBN 978-1-57178-107-9.
  45. ^ C.A. Weslager, 1973. Magic Medicines of the Indians, The Middle Atlantic Press p. 124
  46. ^ a b "Chief Vincent Mann". Rutgers SASN. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  47. ^ "Chief Vincent Mann – The Public History Project". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  48. ^ "Seeding a Native Future Despite a Toxic Past: Chief Vincent Mann of the Ramapough Lenape Turtle Clan". NESAWG. 2019-12-09. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  49. ^ Kraft, Herbert C., 2001. The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage, Lenape Books, pp. 564–566
  50. ^ Joslyn, Roger (July 21, 1993). "Letters to the Editor: Ramapough Indians tribal rights". Rockland Journal News.
  51. ^ "Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination", CD-6, file 6_4.pdf p. AR029374 (available from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)
  52. ^ Ramapough Mountain Indian Final Determination, CD-2, file 2_4_Part02.pdf p.218 (available from the BIA under the Freedom of Information Act)
  53. ^ "Calculated Gamble; Trump cries foul over Indian casino", Newsday, May 4, 1993, p. 41
  54. ^ a b "Implementation of Indian Gaming Regulatory Act: oversight hearing before the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on implementation of Public Law 100-497, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988". 1993. pp. 77, 86.
  55. ^ a b c "Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Final Determination against Federal Acknowledgment of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc.". Retrieved November 19, 2011
  56. ^ "page 2. May 16, 2002" (PDF). Doc.narf.org. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  57. ^ Greene, David L. (July 17, 1999), "Tribe fights for place in history", The Baltimore Sun
  58. ^ Alexa Koenig and Jonathan Stein, "Federalism and the State Recognition of Native American Tribes: A Survey of State-Recognized Tribes and State Recognition Processes across the United States", Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 48, 2007, p 101. Retrieved February 21, 2011
  59. ^ Koenig and Stein (2007), "Federalism and State Recognition", p. 129. Note: The Ramapough Mountain Indians had not been recognized by the state of New York, which does not have a formal process for recognizing tribes. It has only recognized the Shinnecock and one other tribe due to longstanding historical relationships with the state.
  60. ^ Corzine, Jon S. (August 4, 2006). "Executive Order #24". State of New Jersey. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  61. ^ Corzine, Jon S. (October 1, 2008). "Executive Order #122". State of New Jersey. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  62. ^ New Jersey Committee on Native American Community Affairs (December 17, 2007). "Report to Governor Jon S. Corzine". Scribd. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  63. ^ Lutz, Philip. "2010 Census and Local Partnerships". lwd.dol.state.nj. Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  64. ^ "Tribal Enrollment", Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation website
  65. ^ "Mann vs Ford". Hbo.com. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  66. ^ Aileen Brown. The Intercept. Feb. 19, 2017. As construction near Standing Rock restarts, pipeline fights flare across the U.S. https://interc.pt/2l9kRma
  67. ^ "Synopsis". Mann v. Ford. HBO. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  68. ^ Pilgrim could be NJ's oil pipeline to nowhere. NorthJersey.com-Feb 3, 2017
  69. ^ Remnick, Noah (2017-04-14). "The Ramapoughs vs. the World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-01.
  70. ^ Native American Tribe Fights Pilgrim Pipeline Plan in New Jersey http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NJ-Native-American-Lunaape-Tribe-Fights-Pilgrim-Pipeline-Plan-408359755.html via @nbcnewyork
  71. ^ Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline sparks further debate. Union News Daily-Feb 19, 2017. http://unionnewsdaily.com/headline-news/29405
  72. ^ "Synopsis". Mann v. Ford. HBO. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  73. ^ Bobker, Corey; Ogins, Matt; Orritt, Steven (2013). American Native. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  74. ^ "New movie lift curtain on New Jersey's Ramapough Mountain People". The New York Post. November 30, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  75. ^ "Out of the Furnace and into the reality of Ramapo crime families". Indiewire. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  76. ^ Duffy, Christie (December 4, 2013). "'Out of the Furnace' under fire in Mahwah". FiOS1. Archived from the original on December 10, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  77. ^ Ivers, Dan (December 5, 2013). "Ramapough Indians, Mahwah officials decry depiction in new movie as 'hate crime'". NJ.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  78. ^ Incalcaterra, Laura (December 6, 2013). "Ramapough chief denounces Christian Bale movie as 'hate crime'". The Journal News. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  79. ^ Ma, Miles (December 23, 2013). "Members of Ramapough seek $50 million from makers of 'Out of the Furnace' A lawsuit says 'Out of the Furnace,' starring Christian Bale and Zoe Saldana, misrepresents members of the Ramapough Mountain Indians. (Relativity Media)". NJ.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  80. ^ "Wilbur C. DeGroat, III, Arlitta DeGroat, Leon DeGroat, Diane DeGroat, Pia DeGroat Dennison, Marie DeGroat Mann, Rodney van Dunk, Eunice DeGroat, Gilbert DeGroat, Rosemarie Mann, Amanda Mann, Dawn Mann, Santana Peterson, Rachael Mann, Daniel W. Dennison, Jr and Jon van Dunk, Plaintiffs, v Scott Cooper; Brad Inglesby; Relativity Media, LLC a California limited liability company; Appian Way, LLC, a California limited liability company; Energy Entertainment, Inc., a California corporation; Scott Free Productions, Inc., a California corporation; Red Grantie Pictures, INC. a California corporation; and John Does 1 to 5, Defendants" (PDF). NJ.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  81. ^ "Judge tosses out Ramapough Mountain Indians' lawsuit over Out of the Furnace". The Star Ledger. New Jersey. May 16, 2014. p. 17.
  82. ^ "The Red Road: Game of Thrones actor to star". TV Bizwire. July 2013. Retrieved July 21, 2013.

External links[edit]