The Windward Maroons
The inscription of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, recognized the natural as well as the cultural heritage of the region; specifically - The Windward maroon communities. Their story begins 500 years ago during the imperial race to capture territory in the New World. The Spanish Conquistadors claimed Jamaica first and with the subsequent death or desertion of the indigenous Taino, they looked to African labour to establish their society. Some of these Africans escaped and joined the Taino in the hills and mountains. The absconded Africans were labeled Maroons; a derivation from the Spanish word for ‘wild’ - Cimarrón. When Britain challenged Spain for control of the island in the 17th century, the Conquistadors required their African slaves to join the resistance. They chose freedom instead and retreated to the mountains.
The Windward maroons would settle in the Blue and John Crow Mountains while the Leeward maroons made the Cockpit country their stronghold.
The absconded Africans were labeled Maroons; a derivation from the Spanish word for ‘wild’ - Cimarrón. The Windward maroons would settle in the Blue and John Crow Mountains while the Leeward maroons made the Cockpit country their stronghold.
The rugged topography, lush forests and numerous water sources were used by the Windward Maroons to wage their successful guerrilla warfare against the British. The signing of the Peace Treaty in 1739 secured the sovereignty of the Maroons and brought the war to an end. The Maroons established their communities in the most remote sections of the island. Separated from mainstream society, the maroons became a time capsule of pre-colonial African traditions; which is evident today in their unique language, theology and music.
There are three main Windward Maroon communities: Moore Town in the Rio Grande Valley, Charles Town in the Buff Bay Valley and Scotts Hall in the Wag Water River Valley.
The music of the Moore Town Maroons has been recognised by UNESCO as a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage". The Maroons still retain many traditions in their governance, music, dance, drumming, cuisine and use of herbal remedies amongst others.