View Full Version : "Progress" wants to destroy Cockpit Country

Kim Whitmyre
02-03-2007, 09:59 AM

Maroons (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-maroons3feb03,0,898351.story?coll=la-home-headlines)

Jamaica's island of isolation
By Carol J. Williams
Times Staff Writer

February 3, 2007

Accompong Town, Jamaica HIGH above the serpentine valleys and vine-tangled trails of this mountainous refuge, runaway slaves could spot approaching bounty hunters and soldiers well in time to ambush all comers.

Along secret paths flanked by steep limestone cliffs, the fiercely independent fugitives guided thousands of fresh escapees from the island's sugar plantations to safety with horn calls and drum beats familiar to the native Africans.

A natural fortress, this territory was sufficiently remote and forbidding to protect those who fled enslavement and to allow them over the last three centuries to preserve the traditions and tongues of their forebears.

But nearly 500 years after the first slaves were brought to Jamaica, the descendants of the Maroons from the Spanish cimarron, or "wild one" are discovering chinks in their geographical armor. Outsiders now covet the Maroons' bountiful minerals, flora and fauna, threatening the long-ignored territory with industrial intrusion and the descendants of slaves with curbs on their independence.

The rugged land called Cockpit Country was ceded to the Maroons after they repelled a decade-long assault by British forces intent on wiping out the runaway slave insurgents. Admitting defeat in 1739, the British signed a treaty granting the Maroons autonomy and control of a little-explored and nearly inaccessible area of limestone towers sheathed in brick-red earth and dense tropical foliage.

For centuries, the Maroons wove vines into clothing, fashioned bowls and other vessels from giant pods that drooped from the green canopy shielding their thatched-twig homes and tilled the rich soil to feed themselves without commerce with British-ruled Jamaicans.

Even since Jamaica won independence from Britain in 1962, the Kingston government has generally honored the reclusive Maroons' right to self-rule, only recently coming under pressure from foreign mining interests and traders of exotic species to open the territory to the modern world. Some fear the dwindling Maroon population is too weak and scattered to fend off intruders. . .(cont. at link)

Phillip Allen
02-03-2007, 10:31 AM
Ah progress...everything not profitable is a howling wilderness to be destroyed