The Jackson "Whites"
- The Jackson "Whites"
The name applied to a group of people of Mixed-Descent
(African, European, and Native American) living in the
Ramapo Mts. along the New Jersey-New York state line.
The term Jackson Whites probably developed
as a result of the continued joint reference to
the mountain people as 'Jacks' (an 18th-century
term for freed slaves or "blacks" in general) and
Whites, i.e., it became `Jackson Whites'.
The Ramapough Mountain People, also known locally,
and in the pejorative as "The Jackson Whites," are an
extended clan of closely interrelated families living in
the Ramapo Mountains and their more remote valleys
principally in Bergen County, New Jersey, but
also in immediately adjacent Passaic County,
New Jersey, and Rockland County, New York.
Their largely Dutch surnames, de Groot, de Fries,
van der Donck, and Mann, in all their variant
spellings, are among the oldest in the countryside ...
They live only thirty miles or so from downtown
Manhattan which lies just across the Hudson River.
They are shy, gentle, proud, and reclusive
people who, until relatively recently, seldom
ventured far from their mountain homes.
They are clearly Racially-Mixed.
There are elements from Native Indian, Negro, Dutch,
and possibly German (Hessian) and Italian blood lines.
In general, members of the clan have light to dark bronze
complexions -- light eyes, and curly hair, usually jet black
or brunette -- but occasionally "pure white".
Their facial features display a mixture
of Indian and Negro characteristics that
have set them apart from their neighbors.
More than any other aspect, it is their looks that have
isolated them, marked them, and engendered the
many lies, misconceptions, myths and legends that
surround them in the local oral history of the region.
The clan now prefers to be called the
Ramapough (or Ramapo) Mountain
People or the Ramapough Mountain Indians.
Source: Article by Mayer, Allan J., "Is this tribe
Indian?" Newsweek 95(Jan 7, 1980):32(1).
In the 1980s, as a result of an activist movement led
by tribal author and historian, Mozelle Van Dunk,
they petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs,
with support from the Attorneys General
of New Jersey and New York States, for
recognition and status as a bona fide Indian tribe.
To date, their efforts have been unsuccessful.
The Bureau classifies them as Black not Indian.
The Ramapough Mountain IndiansRamapough Mountain People "The Jackson Whites"
Although the Ramapough Mountain Indians have resided
in the Ramapough Mountains for more than three hundred
years, there is very little documentation in New
York or New Jersey that refers to the tribe.
There are many reasons for this, starting with the
lack of a written language by the Lenape people.
The written history of the native people in this area
was always left to the non-native community to write,
and with their ignorance of Lenape ways and
language, their documentation was seldom accurate.
Therefore, we rely on our oral history more
than the writings found in the history books.
Most of the Europeans that came to Lenapehoking
didn't understand that the different bands of natives
that lived throughout New Jersey , New York , and
Pennsylvania were all part of the whole Lenape Nation.
The bands were known by the places they resided,
therefore Europeans thought they were different Tribes.
In time, most of the Munsee migrated north.
The few individuals and families that stayed
behind began making decisions for themselves.
This caused even more confusion among the
newcomers, and more trouble for the natives.
The Lenape didn't believe anyone
could own the land or water.
They believed that would be
like someone owning the air.
You could only own what you can hold in
your hand and even that was for sharing.
They believed the Creator put the land and
water here for the survival of all people.
Land couldn't be owned by
one person, or group of people.
They also believed that all things
on Turtle Island had a life.
The plants, animals, and even the rocks would
give their life so the people could survive.
When the whites wanted to buy the land,
the natives thought they wanted to give
them gifts for sharing the land with them.
Of course the new settlers didn't look at things in the same
way, so when they "bought" the land, they would take
action against the Lenape if they tried to use any part of it.
When they realized what the settlers had in mind
they began to refuse, but land speculators found
ways of getting the land away from the Indians.
It didn't matter if the signor was anyone of importance
among his people, or if he had any claim to the
land, as long as they put their mark on a
deed, saying he was the rightful owner.
They would also tell the person signing the deed
that the boundary was at a different location than
it really was, so the natives had no idea that the
deed turned over rights to thousands of acres.
The Ramapo Mountain People
Northwest of Manhattan where the New York-New
Jersey boundry crosses the tree-covered ridges and
hollows of the Ramapo Mountains there is a group
of Racially-Mixed people who have long
been referred to as "Jackson Whites."
Map of the Ramapo Mountain region of New Jersey and New York
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. Jackson Whites
THE HOUSE THE JACKSON WHITES BUILT by Gregory Feeley
AfriGeneas World Research Forum "The Jackson Whites"
Anyone ever hear of the Jackson Whites?
The "Jackson Whites" & "To Elsie"
African Americans and American Indians
Encyclopedia of North American Indians
Lost Dutch offshoot