By: Celina DeCastro
This day in history: March 1, 1739, Colonel Guthrie and Cudjo, the leaders of the Maroons of Cockpit Country signed a peace treaty allowing Maroons the right to self-govern and 1500 acres of Jamaican land.
In return of this land and self-government, the Maroons agreed to become slave catchers for runaway plantation slaves and assist the English with rebellions.
Originally, the Maroons of Blue Mountains Jamaica were runaway slaves who escaped to the mountains of Jamaica from Spanish plantations before the British gained control of the island in 1655.
The word Maroon derived from the Spanish word cimarrones, which translates to mountaineers.
This peace treaty came after the 1655 First Maroon War the English launched to rid of the largely grown Maroon population.
The large population of the Maroons were split into two groups the Windward Maroons of the East side of the island and the Leeward Maroons of the West side of the island.
The Windward Maroons occupied areas known today as Moore and Charles Town in Portland, Nanny Town in St. Thomas and Scotts Hall in St. Mary. The Leeward Maroons occupied Trelawny Town in St. James and Accompong in St. Elizabeth.
Both Leeward and Windward Maroons displayed their skillful tactics, which made fighting more challenging to the English.
On January 6 every year the Accompong Maroon Festival takes places to celebrate the signing on the peace treaty between the English and the Maroons.