‘Out of the Furnace,’ Into the Reality of Ramapo Families

'Out of the Furnace,' Into the Reality of Ramapo Families

The feverish-but-satisfying drama “Out of the Furnace” is a fictional account of brothers (Christian Bale, Casey Affleck) living in a Rust Belt Pennsylvania that’s dying for jobs. But certain aspects of the story may turn out to be troublingly nonfictional for writer/director Scott Cooper, whose movie might play fast and loose with geography, but bases its villains on very real people.

Specifically: The character played by Woody Harrelson – portrayed as an “inbred” psychopath who deals hard drugs from a secluded community in New Jersey’s Ramapo Mountains – is so obviously inspired by the people who actually live in New Jersey’s Ramapo Mountains that you wonder if anyone involved with the film, from Cooper to Relativity Media, ever thought to consult a lawyer; you hope they bought E&O insurance. It would be one thing if Harrelson’s ruthless, vicious crime boss was, like Vito Corleone, merely inspired by, say, Carlo Gambino. But Harrelson’s character is named Harlan DeGroat – DeGroat being one of the chief family names in a community that now refers to itself as the Ramapough Indians, but has for decades been the subject of tall tales, fearful rumors, and no shortage of outright bias.

Here’s how Ben McGrath described the world in a New Yorker magazine article of 2010, which was precipitated by the killing by park rangers of a resident named Emil Mann (The Manns being another principal family in those particular hills):

“Mountain people” is a euphemism for what locals used to call “Jackson Whites”—a racial slur that the referents equate with the word “nigger.” They call themselves Ramapough Mountain Indians, or the Ramapough Lenape Nation, using an old Dutch spelling for the name of the river that cuts through the Hudson and North Jersey Highlands, although suburban whites tend to think of them as racially indeterminate clansfolk. The Ramapoughs number a few thousand, marry largely among themselves, and are concentrated in three primary settlements: on and around Stag Hill, in Mahwah; in the village of Hillburn, New York, in the hollow below Stag Hill’s northern slope; and, west of Stag Hill, in Ringwood, New Jersey, in the remains of an old iron-mining complex. The settlements span two states and three counties—a circumstance with socially marginalizing consequences—but they are essentially contiguous if you travel through the woods, by foot or A.T.V.”

The article suggests that park rangers may have simply freaked out. As McGrath wrote elsewhere, “area teen-agers, recalling decades-old legends of unsuspecting people who climbed Stag Hill and never returned, dare one another to drive up at night… The Manns, the Van Dunks, the De Groats, the De Freeses, have lived and hunted there for generations.”

Repeated phone calls to the Ramapough tribal offices – where a woman name Carol DeGroat is in charge of the geneology department — went unreturned. Cooper, too, was unavailable for comment. But one suspects that “Out of the Furnace,” with an original screenplay written by Cooper and Brad Ingelsby, may have jumped into a PR fire. Or a legal one. “Normally, you not only change people’s names but you change character traits so they’re not recognizable,” said one prominent LA-based entertainment lawyer, who wanted to remain nameless. “I can’t draw a conclusion, of course, but it’s certainly a potential problem.”

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Comments

LovinaRoberts

Hello,Great Day For My Next Family,, Discovery,, MissionarieVee,On This Relay For The Ture,History, For All Lost Native American!!

David

"Sew" ?

Zeke

Most of you people on here (MOST), have your panties in a wad about somethig really ridiculous. I can't comment on whether these "Jackson Whites" are upstanding individuals or inbred psychos. And I don't think anyone can make that decision. None of you have met all members of this so-called tribe. There are good and bad people in every group, so arguing about it is truly just asinine. I'm sure there are some hill people who got a bad reputation because of one incident back in the day, or maybe some of the people really were infamous. Also, there were probably some very upstanding citizens among these hill people, and that just shows you that it's really a toss up. I'm Irish and Cherokee but you don't see me shooting whiskey and tracking deer. Every group has their stereotypes, and every strange happening has its rumors. I'm sure it all started with some kids saying, "Oh, don'y do up there, there's hill people." Furthermore, you can't file a civil suit just because your name is used for a villain. Harlan DeGroat is a completely fictional character, and I'm sure the writers only picked the name "DeGroat" to make the story more accurate for the setting. You don't own your surname. Any author or screenwriter can use your surname when they want. Tough luck I guess. It's not defamation of character if there is a fictional person BASED on you. On a sidenote, you people should find something else to argue about. Some of you are racist some of you are extremist. Some of you just want your opinions heard like me. But it's too difficult to tupe on this page, so I'm done.

Rob

I grew up in Ramsey, NJ and there was an Eileen DeGroat in my 5th grade elementary class. During the summer of 1969 the Borough of Ramsey somehow found a way to condemn her family's house on Shadyside Drive, and they were forced to leave. I don't know where they went but rumors were up towards Mahwah in what we called the Jackson Whites area. The borough then burned the house down. I remember seeing the orange glow of the house burning in the night. My father, a severe racist and member of the Ramsey Planning Board, knew what they had done was wrong and he never spoke of it ever again.

Chris

If you are from NNJ we all know that they are real people, some good some bad. The bad ones just look for handouts, dont work and abuse drugs and a lot suffer from mental ilness. They inbreed, eat squirrels and think the "other people" hence hard working TAX paying people owe them something. If they wanted to be treated equal then start paying taxes and if they feel disrespcetd then move! Nobody is forcing them to live in highly polluted areas, if they really cared about themseleves they would better their lives. I do not feel bad for them nor do I belive they should have any entitlements. If they are a "real" native american tribe then how come the federal goverment doesnt recognize them? To each is own, but if you know the area and know the people…most stories about them are sad but very true.

tom dring

these people have been maligned for decades like any group you have good & bad most go to work daily in all forms of employment. I worked with one Alfred D. or al he is a very sharp electronic tech a great guy we had many enjoyable lunchs at many of abex's town bar&grills anyone who says they are a lawless bunch dosnt know any thing

IMAGINE

EARTH

Fightin' Whites

We'll be coming down from the mountain, der will be blood!

Zander DeGreat

Just came from the movie. Thought it was excellent. One of the advantages will definitely be watching more people talk about the bizarre and fascinating and rather creepy Jackson Whites. I'm sure the "indians" have lawyers which will take them for a load of cash pretending to sue the makers of the film, which is hilarious.
Ramapo "indians"…LOL
Woody Harrelson is one of my favorite actors after seeing "Furnace" (Bale has been one of my favorites for a long time already and ol Ghost Dog is solid)

IMAGINE

This is a subject that is very sensitive to a misunderstood and unappreciated group of people. For many years this group has been judged based on those who try to defend their own lives and created a way of life, that many years ago they were forced to conform to. Due to those who forced them to retreat to the mountains. In order to live in peace and with no intention of violence were forced to survive in such a way that most people can't fathom in today's world. I have grown to understand and admire the family ties and appreciation of earths gifts, in knowing this greatly unappreciated unique way of being. I understand and sympathize why this movie would cause an uneasy feeling of those who mean no harm but are constantly accused of doing harm. There is no group of people that should be judge on actions or a way of living as a whole. I completely understand the reasons for upset on a subject so sensitive. In my own experience and having ties personally and socially with the families who are defending the potential accusations that may be in this movie. I just want to say Thank You for those of you who enlightened me in ways of life my own family would never understand.

Imagine

hello

carole

I grew up close to the Ramapo mountains…we were always scared of the "Jackson Whites"…there were stories of inbreeding and crazy people. Of course nobody actually met any of them.

Nancy VanT

It's not just in the mountains where these types are/live………..I spent my teens in a small town in North Western New Jersey……AND………..there was a family there that was, as is said, inbreed. Mentally disabled people who were 'left in the lurch' so to speak, no medical help or any compassionate people helping these people……..therefore………..it's happened even in small town that are not isolated……..small towns were many of the people are 'small minded' and also 'isolated' from the real world, AND, just don't care. I haven't seen the movie and don't think I will BUT KNOW it is a real situation and not 'entertainment'….

John S.

Jenn, Based on your ignorant,stupid prejudice comments, I'm certain there are many Ramapo Indian kids with a higher GPA than you can ever have .

John S.

Jenn, by your own words you just stereotpyed , negatively labeled the entire tribe .YOUR QUOTE .( "The fact the Ramapo "Indians" are trashy, dirty, dangerous mountain people ") . Do you know each and every tribal member ? Do you know howmany of them are law abiding hardworking with college educations ? You're pathetic . I hope they track your messages to your computer so you can be sued too . You're a racist loser and a discrace to humanity .

jenn

Hahahaha maybe next time a "blood" or a "crip" kills someone in a movie they will get themselves a lawyer too. You people are so DUMB! It's so entertaining.

Steve Carack

To the Ramapo Indians and all towns presumably defamed in this movie . Based on my understanding, if this movie unjustly depicts your tribe and towns in a negative manor , without permissions granted, without research , then your towns, tribal members should have a strong case for civil action , class action suits . Civil rights violations are also possible . If I were a tribal member I would get in touch with Indian Affairs Division of the government and also the ACLU . These actors and movie directors need to be tought a lesson .

John.S.

Hey Jen . Did you research the Ramapo Indians or everyone in those towns to know if what you heard was true ? I'm guessing you're a white person fed racist rumors and lies . How would you like it if we stereotpyed all whites as descendants of murderers who committed GENOCIDE ,RAPE and LAND THEFT against Native Americans ? What if we generalized all whites as descendants of SLAVE TRADERS & SLAVE RAPIST ? Would that be fair to you or your family ?

Jenn

Yes all sue, or "sew" as a few of you had said :). Dont you think if that was possible every person in Harlem or the South Bronx would sue for defamation. Come on people. Besides, we all know it's true anyway…..

D.Mann

O please people Its just a movie!!! And most of things that are being said bout the mountian people are true ..on july 10,1993 a big party was setup just so certain people And they know Who they are used that party to lure kevin royce on the mountian to kill him…you have your good n bad in Any race .i dont see what the big deal is ..so get over it ..i will be watching this movie..

John.S

If this movie portrays all the people in these communities in a negative light, I think there should be a CLASS ACTION SUIT filed with the ACLU . There are somany law abiding, hard working good people who belong to the Ramapo Indian tribe . Many who have professional degrees . Many student with high GPAs who recieved merit scholarships . And many residents living in these towns weren't even born there. It would be very unfair to generalize them all in a negative way .

Jones

All these empty threats of lawsuits are hilarious. No one owns the rights to a surname. Any author can use any surname for any character they please. And we all know the Indian stuff is nonsense. The US Bureau of Indian Affairs turned the Ramapo people down because they couldn't prove any Indian ancestry. It's all wishful thinking.

CYNTHIA CONKLIN

THIS IS A BUNCH OF SHIT MY GRANDMOTHER ISADORA CONKLIN (NEE ) MANNWAS A WELL KNOWN, WELL RESPECTED RESIDENT OF MAHWAH AS WAS MY FATHER RICHARD CONKLIN I AM PROUD TO BE A DIRECT DESCENDENT OF THE RAMAPOUGH INDIANS AND NONE OF MY FAMILY WERE INBREDS GET FACTS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE SHOULD ALL SUE!!!FOR DEFAMATION AT THE VERY LEAST

Concerned

To my Ramapough friends:

I hope your lawyers clean out their bank accounts and that you receive all profits from this film. Go get 'em!

MJF

Dear Family Members,
Mahwah,Hillburn, Ringwood, Rockland, Orange County, Westchester, New York New York, Oneida , Buffalo , Fla ,South Carolina , Georgia ,
I just want to say we are speaking on deaf ears!! The sad part is that the producers ,writers and actors didn't take in to consideration how this would effect our children and our children's children… I have to say I'm disappointed in the actors for taking on rolls that weren't Ever researched in this So called reality movie about our families … I always respected Woody Harrilson and Forest Whittaker as actors until I saw this trailer … The lollipop isn't the only thing he sucks… And shame on you both !!! Are you that broke ? That you take on rolls that are sooo false and are supposed to represent the truth ! Our problem Family is that we stay quiet or try to stand alone!!! I pray NOT this time !!!! My children range from ages 33 to 12 and everyone one of them were hurt and offended by what they read about our Family !!!! My 19 yr old daughter has been applying for colleges .. She asked .. Mom should I put down that I'm Native American ? I am so glad I said no baby .. Check the white box !!! After this movie Friday .. Who knows how they'll be treated if they mention their blood line!! Don't get it twisted though !!! We are not ashamed one bit about who we are!!!! I am ashamed however of you the actors in this movie for caring more about money then innocent children and families that carry on the names you try to make look like uncivilized , illiterate , drug dealing vagabonds !!! Family from all over … It's time we hold our heads up and stand together as one!! It's time to end the defamation and rumors that even our children may have to suffer now thanks to these people !!!!! I know we are all hurt over all the belligerent totally fabricated bull that's been said about our families … But we are strong and have cone way too far as a people, to let them stand in our way of getting the respect that we have worked hard for and deserve !!! Thank you all for not lowering yourselves to their level !!! All my love and respect , M

Ringwood longtime resident

Hey Jenn down there, STFU you obviously our uninformed about this movie. This movie is based on Jackson Whites from Ringwood NJ. It not only is total bullshit but will bring our town down. Which BTW is one of the richest towns in New Jersey that consists of doctors, lawyers and other higher careered influences. Therefor, know what you're talking about before you flap your uneducated gums. Thanks have a nice….nightmare.

voice from one of decendants of the degroat family

I grew up on grove st and stag hill in mahwah. we are all tired of the negativity. our children should not have to deal with this the way I had to growing up. we have all worked hard to change the speculations and degrading negativity of being " mountain people". all of my family have always worked hard to provide for there families. they don't mention in their articles that we are productive members of this society, we are nurses, fireman, counselors, contractors, teachers, ect. why are we still dealing with this defamation of our families and ancestors. there is not one community in America that does not have hardship, if you are going to focus on ours than at least attempt to exhibit some good and positivity. do your research thoroughly and stop trying to destroy the future of our children, they might be the ones saving your life or the life of your loved ones one day. my generation already is.

voice from one of decendants of the degroat family

I grew up on grove st and stag hill in mahwah. we are all tired of the negativity. our children should not have to deal with this the way I had to growing up. we have all worked hard to change the speculations and degrading negativity of being " mountain people". all of my family have always worked hard to provide for there families. they don't mention in their articles that we are productive members of this society, we are nurses, fireman, counselors, contractors, teachers, ect. why are we still dealing with this defamation of our families and ancestors. there is not one community in America that does not have hardship, if you are going to focus on ours than at least attempt to exhibit some good and positivity. do your research thoroughly and stop trying to destroy the future of our children, they might be the ones saving your life or the life of your loved ones one day. my generation already is.

RAMAPOUGH MOUNTAIN INDIANS

You know I too am from Mahwah N.J. never did I inbreed, and for starters if I did. What's in any of " Out of the furnace " business. Why don't you all get your asses out of the furnace and come into the light so we can see who is behind this bullshit. To ALL my people " don't stoop to their level" , this is what they want. They want us to go off, this gives them more ammo. Keep doing what we do.

Jenn

Omg calm down. The movie takes place in PA! Your not the only inbreed hill billy violent mountain folk in America!

philip j mann

look at everyone coming out of the furnace ..wow ..we speak of being civilized ,honest hard working people and we are.. but shouting out to deaf ears is not helping …they don't read what we write they just don't care about what we think or this movie would not have happened … its almost 2014 and the tribe has top notch lawyers that will handle this ..the recognition of the clans has been many years coming and there are those in power that has fought and tried to silence the people for many years from the beginning of our history there.. this silencing of the people will nolonger stand because as the years has gone by the clans numbers have grown.. now there are a great number of voices in the wind and these great powers that are against us know that you can not silence the wind …things are changing for us and we nolonger sit and have this bad medicine pushed down our throats anymore …im asking everyone to please speak with a civil tongue and not hand these tellers of false stories ammunition to use against us ..speak softly and let those with the good medicine (lawyers) walk this path ahead of us as they are the only ones that the law will listen too. …… people we will be silenced no more.

Patricia DeGroat,, Dennis DeGroat ,,aka KIP

I am hoping that this matter is addressed immediately. This is slander and defamation of character,, to so many loving,, caring good people Who get up everyday like anyone else to support there families .Really though dirt roads ,,we eat squirrel, ,we live in trailers . Not to mention all of the other being said etc…. My three children are DeGroats and don't need to be hearing all the lies and biased accusations. So if this movie airs my children are subject to being made fun of and portrayed as killers ,, drug dealers,,,inbreeds. This is preposterous….

Dana Milligan

I agree with you Cathy we are not animals

Bane

SMH ..why does this have any bearing on YOUR lives

Degroat (a.r.m)

As a Mann family member with a short distant line of Degroat blood I can slightly understand the offensiveness, but I have not taken offense to this movie because it is simply a movie. Movies are stories based upon people and things. Unfortunately people have streaks of evil deep down within them. We all do, just as we have kindness. Being native doesn't mean we are any kinder then any other gene pool. We are all simply human.

I feel the most important statement made against this is

"Mr Anderson. We will not waste our time responding to such a farce of a movie. We have more pressing issues that need our attention such as the fracked oil pipelines running through Northern Jersey, the Ford Motor Cleanup that threatens to pollute the Wanaque drinking water for all of North Jersey and the monitoring of the Hudson river to keep it clean and uncontaminated. We now employ lawyers to handle our trivial matters.
Thank you."

If everyone put the time they took out of their day to write a negative comment and posting about this MOVIE and put it into the community maybe Ford could be stopped or the oil pipelines could get dug up. Instead of complaining about a simple story, walk down to the Hudson river put some gloves on and help make our countryside even more beautiful then it already is.

I do not mean any disrespect to anyone so please don't take offense. I am a Degroat and my grandparents were distant cousins, and for almost 30 years now I've grown up hearing about the battle for recognition to the tribe and about how the whites have to constantly argue their reputation. I could understand it if the movie were a documentary like The Whites of West Virginia showing the nation on a trasher side but this movie looks well done all the way around. I hope I get to see it and I hope we can all save our land for sueing the movie company isn't going to help us survive should there be a major disaster but the Hudson might.

jeannine mann (gonzalez)

how dare they be so racist I agree I was raised on stag hill for the first 17 years of my life and oh my gosh I cannot believe what im reading we are humans we live normal if not better lives than everyone else we are not animals we work just as hard if not more than everyone else im very upset about what im reading and seeing wow sue the pants off these so and sos for even tempting to do this ticked off

Unknown

The people that made the movie should be sued

ramapoughnative

Mr Anderson. We will not waste our time responding to such a farce of a movie. We have more pressing issues that need our attention such as the fracked oil pipelines running through Northern Jersey, the Ford Motor Cleanup that threatens to pollute the Wanaque drinking water for all of North Jersey and the monitoring of the Hudson river to keep it clean and uncontaminated. We now employ lawyers to handle our trivial matters.
Thank you.

Melvina

Reality? So is there a part in it about how most of my family comes down that hill in their cars and trucks and work hard like everyone else and have for years! Is there a part about how at least 50% of my family sing and or play and instrument ? Is there music in it ? And how the other 50% are crafty they make things ? And how about a part where if you need help my family is right there to help… And yes they ride atv's like a lot of other people but for recreation , because they work hard and want to enjoy themselves .. We are a family a smart strong proud family!!! We are tired of people assuming about us…if you go up and don't come down it's because you didn't want to !! We only kill with kindness !!! Leave our people alone .. this is why we don't talk , would it matter? You've belittled our entire family once again .and we're not afraid of anything . That's reality!!!!

V. Spann

Your movie "Out Of The Furnace", is a bias, racist movie. Not everyone that lives in the Ringwood area are Indian!!!!!! some of us are black, worked all our lives, and have not married a relative. Your information is incorrect! I must admit there are some truths to the story line, but very little. Those hands that got greased for a few dollars, have never worked, and should drop their head in shame.

John

I live on Stag Hill, and all this is 100% BS. Ppl in this area are livid at the portrayal of the REAL ppl who live around here. And someone will be sued for using the real names of real ppl who live here. Media distorts everything.

Kelly Parker

How horrible is this! As a member and resident of Ringwood I am horrified by this movie! How degrading, demeaning and biased is this? Who did the research for this movie? How racist can people continue to be? The whole community is up in arms and I can guarantee there will be consequences regarding this piece of crap…. I'm smelling a lawsuit!!!!

Ramapoughnative

This was made for only one reason.. to create a stir and make publicity which generates money for them. Don't give them what they want. Let the lawyers take care of it.. They are already working on it as we speak. All I can say is there's alot of people who aren't going to be too happy, beginning with the writers and the studio, shortly. This looks like a great case for libel and slander just for openers..

Joshua Mann

Ur damn right were gonna sue. That's my family their talking about, literally. My dad is from ringwood

Charlene

I agree Ashley

How do you get the nerve to do this? Why dont they tell lies about there own people! anything to make a dollar so sad

jt

this sh*t is rediculous , my people are going to sew them so much, just because they changed the location from ringwood new jersey to pennsylvannia doesn't make it any less offensive to me or my people

Ashley

My family for generations has lived in hillburn ny… Hollywood and journalists are making their own stories and twisting them about what goes on in these towns.. If you wanted to make a movie based on these towns and what goes on you should have asked and interviewed natives of these towns before jumping the gun and writing a movie and articles based on myths… Hollywood and these journalists better get ready for some lawsuits!

Royce

So you think someone's going to come out and say, "They've based this sadistic psychopath on me without my consent"? Yeah, good on ya mate.

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