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'Ramapough' Tribe suing 'Out of the Furnace' filmmakers not Federally recognized

The “Out of the Furnace” movie has made only $11,328,961 in U.S. theaters since its' release on Dec. 4, 2013. It has not opened at the Foreign box office. The production budget stands at $22 million. The film stars Christian Bale & Woody Harrelson. 17 members of the “Ramapough Lunaape Nation” have filed a $50 million lawsuit against screenwriters, Scott Cooper & Brad Inglesby plus 5 production companies. They include, “Relativity Media”, “Appian Way”, “Energy Entertainment”, “Scott Free Productions” & “Red Granite Pictures.”

Woody Harrelson and Willem Defoe
Woody Harrelson and Willem Defoe
Relativity Media

The “Ramapough” members claim in the lawsuit that they were “defamed” & “humiliated” because they feel they were portrayed as quote, "Inbred mountain folk from Jersey." The movie which surrounds the main character of Russell Baze (Christian Bale) makes no reference to the word “inbred” connected to “Ramapough.” There is no mention either in the film of the “Ramapough Lunaape Nation.”

In “Furnace” Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) is the leader of an underground bare-knuckle fight club. His name is mentioned only three times in the film. Director Scott Cooper says in his interview with “Hollywood.com” that Harlan comes from the “Ramapo” mountains in New Jersey. “Ramapo” is used only three times in the movie & once as “Rampo.” If we never looked at the written screenplay, we can only assume the pronunciation is “Ramapo” & there is no mention of the tribe or a specific tribal member.

Council Chief Dwaine Perry of the “Ramapough Lunaape Nation" told “NJ.com” that the film, "It eats up and destroys one's self-esteem, particularly for the children. You can't really measure the destruction. It's a massive social humiliation. Not only is it a hate crime, it's an extremely violent crime." His anger is referring to a legend of Ramapo Mountain Indians called, “Jackson Whites.” Throughout history they've been talked about as people who inbreed descending from slaves, prostitutes & renegade Indians. “Jackson Whites” is never mentioned in the film. Never.

According to the 2013 public records of the “Bureau of Indian Affairs” (BIA). There are now 566 federally recognized Indian tribes in the U.S. The “Ramapough Mountain Indians” are not on that list. They do not have an Indian Reservation nor do they receive federal funding. The “Ramapough Lunaape Nation” is however recognized as a tribe by the states of New York & New Jersey.

The official “Ramapough” website is run by a 501c non-profit organization. They have formed their own tribal council & speak their own language. The “Ramapough” have tried to gain federal status as an American Indian Tribe since the 1970's. They have been turned down by the Department of the Interior & the BIA numerous times. There seems to be no proof of an existence of tribal people when the descendents branched off of unknown bloodlines that cross several states.

The “Ramapough Lunaape Nation” claims on their website that they rely more on oral history than on documented written books for who they really are. Historians & genealogists have been arguing over where exactly the “Ramapough” Indians originated. Some say they descend from Hessian deserters, escaped slaves & Tuscarora Indians who joined the Iroquois Confederacy. Others say they rein from African, Dutch & English ancestry from the last names of, “Van Dunk”, “DeGroat”, “De Freese”, “DeGroot” or “Emanuels” (Later Mann).