National Geographic : 1967 Dec
within the nation (pages 862-3). In 1739 the British, by treaty, recognized the Maroons' sovereignty-a century before the freeing of Jamaican slaves. Their name derives from the Spanish cimarron, meaning "wild," and they are chiefly descendants of Negro slaves who ran away from the Spaniards during their 150-year occupancy of the island. We drove up to visit the Moore Town Ma roons' chieftain, Col. C. L. G. Harris. Of the 8,000 Maroons in Jamaica today, about 2,500 live in Moore Town, and they have elected Colonel Harris their leader. Because the mili tary titles of their British enemy impressed the Maroons, all chieftains take the title colonel. Colonel Harris, a dignified man of 50, lives with his wife and six children in a neat little pink house, and he cordially invited us in. "After the English drove out the Spaniards in 1655, they tried to recapture my ancestors," he told us with an impeccable British accent. "But our people were mainly fierce Coroman tees, masters of guerrilla warfare and camou flage. They chose these mountains and the rough Cockpit Country in the west because they were so inaccessible." Maroon Hospitality Belies "You No Come" The British gave in and granted the Ma roons the sovereignty still recognized by inde pendent Jamaica. "We pay no taxes on our treaty land and we conduct our own trials in most matters," the colonel told me. "But otherwise we are Jamaicans, too. We vote in the national elections. We pay the income tax and the tax on land we bought ourselves. But one holiday we've never celebrated-August 1-because the Maroons took their freedom themselves and did not wait for the freeing of the slaves on that date in 1838." The other principal Maroon colony, at Ac compong, is even less accessible than Moore Town. It lies in the Cockpit Country, 40 miles southeast of Montego Bay as measured by a tortuous dirt road-and 1,400 feet skyward. Maps distinguish the area chiefly by blank space and such forbidding district names as Look Behind, and Me No Sen, You No Come. I went up with Douglas Burke, head of the Montego Bay Tourist Office, in a four wheel-drive station wagon. The trip took two-and-a -half hours each way, and we In languid reverie, visitors float down the Rio Grande close to steep, vine-canopied banks, past great bamboo and wild cane, and across small rapids. Rivermen pole the buoy ant bamboo rafts on the 2'/2-hour voyage.