Maroons were originally Africans who had escaped from slavery in the Americas and mixed with the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and formed independent settlements. The term can also be applied to their descendants. The words "Maroon" and "Seminole" share the same origin in the Spanish word cimarrón, meaning "wild" or "untamed". When runaway Blacks and Amerindians banded together and subsisted independently they were called Maroons. On the Caribbean islands, they formed bands and on some islands, armed camps. Maroon communities emerged in many places in the Caribbean (St. Vincent and Dominica, for example), but none were seen as such a great threat to the British as the Jamaican Maroons. The early Maroon communities were usually displaced. By 1700, Maroons had disappeared from the smaller islands.
In 1502, a mere 10 years after Columbus' first voyage, the first known African maroon escaped his captors and fled into the interior of the island of Hispaniola. The first enslaved Africans to be transported to the Spanish colony of Hispaniola are said to have rebelled and run away. From that time on, it is possible to speak of continual African resistance and rebellion. There were seven major rebellions in the British colony of Jamaica between 1673 and 1686, as well as several others during the same period in Antigua, Nevis and the Virgin Islands.
A typical maroon community in the early settlements usually consisted of three types of people. Most of them were slaves who ran away right after they got off the ships. They refused to accept enslavement and often tried to find ways to go back to Africa. The second group were unskilled slaves who had been working on plantations for a while but escaped. Those slaves were usually somewhat adjusted to the slave system but had been abused by the plantation owners, with excessive brutality even when compared to the normal standards. Others ran away when they were being sold suddenly to a new owner. The last group of maroons were usually skilled slaves with particularly strong ideals against the slave system. Otherwise, they could have chosen the easier way out by blending in with the locals.
Maroonage was a constant threat to New World plantation societies. Punishments for recaptured maroons were severe, like viciously removing an Achilles tendon, amputating a leg, castration, and even being roasted alive. Maroon communities had to be inaccessible and located in inhospitable environments in order to be sustainable. Maroon communities turned the severity of their environments to their advantage to hide and defend their communities. Disguised pathways, false trails, booby traps, underwater paths, quagmires and quicksand, and natural features were all used to conceal maroon villages. Maroon men utilized exemplary guerrilla warfare skills to fight their European enemies.
Copyright 2017. The Sacred Medical Order - Knights of HOPE (SMOKH since 2006) • Worldwide