When slaves were brought in from Africa in great numbers in the 17th Century to work on the sugarcane plantations, soon the first of them were able to escape from the surrounding islands, mainly Guadeloupe and Martinique, to Dominica.

They were welcomed by the Kalinago people because they had a common enemy.

Called Maroons, they eventually lived in villages high up in the mountains out of reach of European raiding parties. By adapting to the Kalinago way of living from the land and their own knowledge from living in the forests of tropical Africa they could live a reasonable comfortable live with a few hundred of their people.

When Dominica was colonized by the English their good lives were over. The English actively chased the Maroons (not the Kalinago) and brought them back into slavery one by one. One of the problems for the English was that plantation slaves could easily join the Maroons in the mountains, which they did. Encouraged by the Maroons the slaves revolted several times.

In the early 19th Century the last great slave uprising took place but was violently cut down by the English. The Maroon villages were burned and they who were not killed were returned into slavery.

The abolition of slavery on August 1, 1834 gave the slaves their freedom but it took another century before they could take their equal place in society.  In many respects the independence of Dominica on November 3rd, 1978 was the real emancipation date for the descendants of the slaves.

By Bryan S. Horne

 

Cascading nearly 300 feet, Middleham Falls, located in the Morne Tois Pitons National Park, provides a memorable experience.  The Morne Tois Pitons National Park is the general position of the Maroon camps and their Chiefs (Goree Greg, Cicero, Mabouva and Balla) between 1763 and 1834 based on colonial reports during this time. Source: Negre Mawon – The Fighting Maroons of Dominica, by Lennox Honychurch.