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The Jackson "Whites"

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  • multiracialbookclub
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9, 2007
      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 Indians

      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
      Map of the Ramapo Mountain region of New Jersey and New York

      Related Links:

      Ramapough Mountain People "The Jackson Whites"
      The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. Jackson Whites
      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

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