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Mahwah, Ramapough Indian Officials Blast New Movie For 'Stereotypical' Portrayal Of Tribe

MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A new movie in theaters Friday is getting a lot of heat about the way it portrays some area Native Americans.

As WCBS 880's Levon Putney reported, critics complain "Out Of The Furnace" depicts the Ramapough Indian tribe living in and around Mahwah, N.J. as violent, drug-using hillbillies.

"The movie is nothing more than a sensational attempt to generate money by degenerating and insulting part of our American culture," Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet told Putney. "This type of stereotype only serves to foster hostility, intimidation and bullying."

Mahwah, Ramapough Indian Officials Blast New Movie For 'Stereotypical' Portrayal Of Tribe

"Why the hatred? Why the reliving of what is obviously well-recorded racism?" Ramapough Chief Dwaine Perry added.

Perry said his community has suffered for decades because of the old stereotypes. He said he's worried about the possible reaction to the community's kids because of the movie.

Perry said that scenes in the film dredged up negative, racist stereotypes.

"The whole effect of this type of media sort of is a hate crime," Perry said, "I believe these wonderful, iconic actors have been duped just as much as the Ramapoughs."

The movie stars Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker and Zoe Saldana.

Laforet agreed with Perry.

"There is a picture of a Bergen County police officer who walks up to this car and says to the man and his uncle, 'Leave now. If you go up there they'll send you back in a body bag,'" he said.

The chief has not called for a boycott but said that he is concerned for young people in Native American tribes across the country and has urged them not to see the movie.

In a statement released on Friday a spokesperson for Relativity Media, the film's production company, said the film was not based on a specific group of people.

"Out Of The Furnace is not based upon any particular person or group of people. As is the case with most films, the filmmakers conducted research and drew upon their own personal life experiences in creating an original screenplay, and the story and the characters are entirely fictional," studio spokesperson Ashley Kline said.

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