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Our History

Katawud Village takes its name from the word “Katawud,” which comes from the phrase “scattered in the woods” or “scatter wood.” People in the Rio Grande Valley use “Katawud” as another name for the Maroons - formerly enslaved indigenous and African peoples who escaped from Spanish and later British slavery on Jamaica’s coastal plantations hundreds of years ago. Our ancestors carved out a new, independent life for themselves and their descendants in the rugged and remote mountains of the country and have lived there continuously from the 16th century until today.


The Maroon nation within the island of Jamaica was therefore born out of their struggle for freedom in the crucible of slavery, rebellion, and political reconciliation. When the British attacked the Spanish colony of Jamaica in 1655, many enslaved people were able to flee the plantations to join other free communities in some of the most inhospitable regions of the island. Poorly armed and outgunned, the Maroons faced down the mighty British Redcoats and their allies, which included local white planter militia groups, Miskito Indians from Central America, and local slave-soldiers known as Black Shots, for more than eighty years. Our ancestors were led by such warriors as Captain Cudjoe (Kojo), Captain Quao and Granny Nanny (also known as Grandy Nanny, Grande Nanny, Nanny, and Queen Nanny). Queen Nanny, skilled in the use of herbs and a spiritual leader, not only managed to keep her people healthy, but by utilizing the island’s steep terrain in its mountainous regions, mastered the art of guerilla warfare, inhabiting caves and deep ravines that were easily defended even against superior British firepower.

As a result of The First Maroon War, generally regarded as having occurred between 1720 – 1739, two peace treaties were signed with the British in 1739 – establishing Maroon self-government and territorial sovereignty on the Leeward (western) and Windward (eastern) parts of the island. Only in a few other cases in the New World had African peoples attained such a degree of autonomy, coming almost 60 years before the Haitian Revolution (1791), having occurred before the American, French, and Spanish-American Revolutions, and almost 100 years before the abolition of the slave trade (1834) in the former British colonies. Queen Nanny of the Maroons became a Jamaican National Heroine in October 1975, the only female member of Jamaica’s seven National Heroes. Today, an artistic likeness of her appears on the Jamaican $500 bill.

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Nanny an outstanding military leader - October 14, 1978.jpg

In 1740-41, Queen Nanny established New Nanny Town, which later became know as Moore Town, the capital for the Windward Maroon communities. Katawud Village is located in Ginger House, one of the nine Windward Maroon communities in the Rio Grande Valley, which is situated in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJMNP) in Portland Parish. The BJMNP became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015.


Katawud Village is the gateway to the historical, cultural, environmental, and human-made legacies that our ancestors have preserved within the Rio Grande Valley. We invite you to explore them with us.

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