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A legend takes hold, and still lingers on...
Local histories and derogatory portrayals of this “community of outcasts” created a fertile ground for discounting Native identities. Imposed narratives have been given the benefit of authority, while the Ramapough’s community knowledge has often been discounted. While other scholarship has been published, the outsized influence of these accounts continues to support the unreflective questioning of the Ramapough’s Native heritage.
What does the evidence reveal to you?
Academic texts can operate to overwrite or erase Native American pasts. Many difficulties arise when scholars attempt to reconstruct Native American history mainly through the use of colonial records. These timelines display a range of evidence. Draw your own conclusions after a complete review.
Is this enough proof to establish the ancestry of an entire community?
In his 1974 book The Ramapo Mountain People David Cohen claims the Ramapough’s only real ancestors are from three free Black families that he traces in the genealogical record up to the late 1700s. Was Cohen able to link the living community he researched in the 1960s to these three families? If any such genealogical work was conducted it is absent from the book. Since Cohen was unable to make this connection, how can he be sure that they are the same people, or that others did not migrate or intermingle with these families?
What evidence is considered? Whose story is told?
A number of deeds, maps, and written correspondence document the presence of Native Americans in the region. There is a lot of other evidence out there, but much has become obscured by the dominant narrative.