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Our Environment

Katawud Village is located in the lush Rio Grande Valley, which is nestled in the tropical, montane rainforest of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJMNP) in Portland Parish, Jamaica. The BJMNP became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015. The region, which is one of the most remote parts of Jamaica, is inhabited by several thousand Maroons who live throughout nine communities. These Maroon villages are connected by rugged parochial roads and nourished by spectacular waterways, such as the mighty and mystical Rio Grande River and, deeper within the forest, the Stony River. The Stony River is the site of Old Nanny Town –the headquarters of our great 17th – 18th century ancestor Queen Nanny (AKA Granny Nanny and Grandy Nanny). It is from Old Nanny Town where Queen Nanny devised her successful military strategies against the British forces in the early 18th century to secure freedom for her people across the length and breadth of the island. These sites now form part of the Nanny Town Heritage Route, which our experienced tour guides are happy to explore with you. This geographic isolation has contributed to the Maroons’ maintenance of strong African-derived oral traditions, language, music, political organization, and spiritual practices, which can be largely traced back to the Akan peoples of modern-day Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

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Historically, this mountainous forest provided a place of refuge and sustenance for the indigenous Tainos of Jamaica fleeing Spanish enslavement, and later the Africans who had arrived on the island as enslaved peoples, who escaped to the mountains to become Maroons. Within the Caribbean region, the Blue and John Crow Mountains has a unique and varied biodiversity, which includes an exceptionally high proportion of plant and animal species that are endemic to the island. The endemic plant species include lichens, mosses, and a variety of flowering plants. The faunal environment also includes several globally endangered species, including several species of frogs and birds.

The Maroons utilize the renewable and other resources of the forest, such as seeds, bamboo, plants, rocks, and other material to create herbal medicine and traditional arts and craft items that we use not only as a means of generating income but also as a way of preserving and connecting with the cultural practices of our ancestors.

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The Katawud Village giftshop carries many items created by our community craftspeople from these locally-sourced natural materials. Come explore the BJMNP natural and cultural environment with our experienced tour guides!

For more information about the Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit:, and

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