The Daily News, 07/24/98 p. 19
A look at Jamaica's early history
I recently returned from the
34th annual "Caribbean Food
Corps Society" meetings held in
Jamaica. This scientific society on
agriculture and natural resources
was established on St. Croix in the
early 1960s to address agricultural
issues in the Caribbean. Today, the
organization addresses a wide
range of topics including, but not
limited to the environment, animal
science and foods prcensing.
In the next few weeks. I will
take you on a Journey to Jamaica
and its people. history, culture,
economy and the einait.
I stayed at Holiday Inn Sun-
spree Resortin Montego Bay. a
rich culture and tourist area. You
know me. as a ecologist writer. I
wanted to know about the peoples
way of life. especially about the
connection between people and
While I was there, many locals
came up to me and asked which
country I came from. Of course. I
said the United States Virgin
Islands residing on the island of St.
Croix. But to my surprise, many
people who I talked to on the
streets and to some extent in the
hotel where I stayed, have never
heard about St. Croix or in some
cases the U.S. Virgin Islands.
However, you must,undettand
that Jamaica is an island with a
population of overis.wp:,million
people. For this .eason probably,
many people never heoadia taS.a
lot of things despite the technolog-
ical age of information. With this
in mind, 1 11i try to brief you on
the history of Jamaica from talking
to people ofal walks of life and
Jamaica is the third largest
4.2436 quae ;-
lion of 2.5 million Bkfbrgieiisto-
pher Columbus rediscovered
Jamaica, the Island's inhabitants
were the Indians who-sailed up
from the South American rivers
hundreds of years ago before the
first white man ever sat hisfoot on
dry land in the New World. "
Spanish governor Ysassi during
the British attack on the island.
The imported enslaved Africans
from West Africa were the
re virInment strongest and the most courageous
were the Commantee including the
Ashanti. Akan and Panti peoples
from the Gold Coast.
The Arawak Indians called These tribes of enslaved
Jamaica "Xayiact" translated a Africans were blamed for the orga-
"Land of Wood and Water" zing of many revolts on planta-
because of the island's abundance tions. In 1690 in Jamaisa, a serious
of rivers, streams. waterfalls, slave rev took place near Chap.
forests and woodland wilderness, leton in.Clarendon Parish. The
When Columbus arrived In British overnment tried brutally
JamiadMay3. 1494, heaned to put down the revolt, but many
his moo met the Indians claiming slaves escaped into the Clarendon
the island for Sin. hills in Jamaica. Among them was
In 1509. the Spanish occupied a young slave named Cudjoe. The
Jamaica for 146 yeats. However, story of the Clarendon Maroons in
the island was not heavily pop Jamaica is the his of or poo
ed by the Spanish because they pie fighting for their foeao.
never found gold there; instead.
pn aiouns w etablbd by th Many slaves that wes on plan.
Spish to supp th shps with ttins escaped to the hills and
goods between Buropa and the became pat of the Maroon society
Americas. EvyluaUy.exploitatin in the mountains of Jamaica. rom
and disease led by the Spanish, the 1690s to the 1720s, the
exterminated the Indians by the Maroons gave the British govern-
m eo the 1700s. ment hell in war. The Maroons
The extermination of the Indi- were very skillful with weapons
ansled to the importation of and fought guerrilla war. The
enslaved Africans to the island planters of Jamaica trembled in
plantations. The British Bucca- their boots with fear of the
neers soon began to take note of Maoons. To make a long story
the wealth of the island and got short. the Brish omld ne conquer
tihcm the capital. St. Jago de La she Maoons
Vega now Spanish Town at least
twice in Jamaican history. In 1655. The Britilsh govenm t decided
Admirals Penn and Venables cap- to grant the Maroons autonomy in
ured Jamaica and the British occu- 739 or a "blood treaty" by cutting
pied the island. their hands with one of the Mawn
It, w duringthis time when the leader whom the blood met togesth
.SpaOish aqd British were at war or which symbolized peace, Their
that enislaved Africans formerly descendants and cUltosura ULxism
orled by the Spanish escaped into today In Jamaica a testament to
thbemountains. Many of these theirskillandtenacity.
:esced enslaved Africans devel- wes clm fce
oped their own separate culture xt week's comn f ues o
based on their African roots in the the history of Jamaica from 1692.
mountains of Jamaica. These run- 4Yr,<- t tl" ,-
away slAveJ.were known As the is article racrct eh~ lew of-
Mnioons, Olas Davis. a Sr. Croix ecolo-
The first Maroons in Jamaica gist, activist an writer wAo has a
were.those who escaped with the master of science degree 1n range
management andforestry ecology.