Cultural Heritage Preservation Programme
Since 2010, the JCDT has been working closely with the Windward Maroon Councils along with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) for the preservation of the tangible heritage and with the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ) for the preservation of the intangible heritage.
The National Park and the Rio Grande Valley were designated Protected National Heritage in 2014, under the JNHT Act to help preserve both the tangible and intangible heritage. The Park’s Co-management Committee now includes the JNHT, the ACIJ and a representative from the Maroon Councils.
The tangible heritage of the Windward Maroons consists primarily of places:
- archaeological sites where villages and towns once existed e.g. Nanny Town and Dinner Time;
- trails e.g. Cunha Cunha Pass Trail;
- rivers, springs and waterfalls e.g. Quao River, Three Finger Jack Spring and Nanny Falls;
- burial sites e.g. at Windsor and Bowden Pen.
Many of these places are still in use by the present day Maroons, for similar purposes as their ancestors – to gather medicinal herbs, to go to market, to collect water or to fish. Some, particularly Nanny Town are considered sacred and not to be visited for fun, but rather for special purposes.
The intangible heritage of the Windward Maroons includes music including drumming and songs; dance; language – Kromanti and cuisine e.g. bussu soup, cacoon stew and perhaps best known – jerk pork. There are many rituals which the elders and leaders of the Maroons practice e.g. blowing the abeng (a cow horn) to gather people and some which are secret and not discussed with Non-Maroons. Some of this heritage can be experienced at the festivals organised by each Maroon community at different times of the year. JCDT assists the Maroon communities by helping to source sponsorship for, and participation in, these events. JCDT also promotes visits to the Windward Maroon communities and their attractions throughout the year. In 2012, with funds from the Forest Conservation Fund, JCDT provided sub-grants to the Moore Town Maroon Council, Charles Town Maroon Council and the Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association to improve some of their tourism ventures, in addition to providing business plan and first aid training as well as computers and office furniture.
In 2013 JCDT obtained a small grant from the Jamaica Energy Partners to support Park and community events and in 2014 funds were received from the GEF/UNDP NEPA National Protected Area Strengthening Project for the same purpose. 3 communities (Charles Town Maroon Council, Moore Town Maroon Council and the Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association) have received funds to help support their annual festivals.