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Indigenous Jamaican Maroon Decendant - What Are The Rights And Remedies Available?

by Esther Pinkard
(Salisbury, NC USA)

Greetings... I am a American Citizen and descendant of the Original Jamaican Tainos indigenous people (DNA Confirmed).

I am writing to inquire what Rights and Financial Assistance is available for a Family Relative who is a British / Jamaican Citizen and Descendant of the Jamaican Maroons based upon Treaties signed in 1739 guaranteeing freedom and land in perpetuity.

Mr. Reginald Greenfield, 96 yrs old is an indigenous person living in Dean's Valley with declining health, who is unable to receive proper medical assistance due to financial hardship.

In 1867 in the case of Jacquet vs. Edwards, a decision of the Jamaican Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal found that:

(1) Jamaica was originally conquered territory but
(2) is to be treated as a settled colony because “by the acts and conduct of the Crown the colonists became entitled to the same rights and privileges as they would have been entitled to had the colony been a settled one”.

It was concluded that “Jamaica, having been conquered, was eventually settled after the conquerors had left and should, therefore be regarded as a settled territory.”

In typical European superiority complex style, the designation of a “discovered” territory was in relation to whether there was a recognized European government in place on the territory at the time of settlement or conquest.

As the Spanish Government had, it is said, abandoned Jamaica before the English arrived in Jamaica in 1655, there was not much of a conquest, apart from the few remaining Spaniards who scarcely put up a resistance.

However, what is often overlooked, historically and legally, is that there were already African communities living on the land, some having been free Africans, some runaways from the Spanish plantations and some descendants of the original Tainos, which had for the most part recreated their traditional African forms of community governance and customary law in Jamaica.

If therefore the Spanish Government abandoned Jamaica, then all the island would have been owned and occupied by the descendants of the original owners, the Tainos, as well as by the other African inhabitants, the Maroons, who were in possession not through or by virtue of anyone, but by their own seizure and expansion of abandoned lands in the hills and valleys of Jamaica.

Even the English common law doctrine of ‘possession’ undoubtedly renders the Maroons as having better title to their lands than the English.

In this respect, Jamaica as we know it was never terranullius to the Spanish or English, as the Tainos were there before Columbus and the Spanish.

There is no evidence, archaeologically or otherwise, of any pre Taino peoples living on the land subsequently called Jamaica.

By 1655 when England under Cromwell invaded, the Spanish Government had already abandoned the island. Only those Spaniards who desired to stay remained on the island. Most of the Tainos having been decimated by forced labor; the plantations were abandoned, leaving Taino and African Maroons who by this time had already established sustainable communities in the interior hills and valleys of the island.

The Taino and African Maroons were well established in Jamaica before the English. When the English did invade or ‘conquer’, the remaining Spaniards fled, but the Maroons never did.

The Maroons fought and were never defeated – never conquered.

Therefore the argument could be made that the Maroons have a better claim than the English to all of Jamaica, as they were there during and after the Spanish abandonment of the island, and before the English arrived, and were never conquered by the English.

Therefore, even if not ‘indigenous’ in relation to the Spanish invasion, the Maroons are certainly indigenous in relation to the English acquisition of Jamaica.

In fact, this notion of English conquest of Jamaica is sustainable only through purely European spectacles, as the sections of lands of the island under the control of the Maroons were never conquered.

This is the most important aspects of the Treaties which are of the most relevance to this day concern Maroon treaty and traditional lands.

These terms of the Treaties, despite the in operation of other terms of the treaties, would still be valid, as the common law principle of severability of contractual terms confirms.

No breach without remedy a fundamental principle of English common law is that every wrong shall be remedied in law.

Therefore, English contract law provides several remedies for the wronged party, including damages (Monetary Compensation), as well as specific performance, which is an order by the Court to the party in breach to adequately perform the particular obligation as agreed by the contract.

In respect of non-treaty lands, which were traditionally occupied and used by the Maroons prior to, during and/or after the Treaties, would equally have a legal basis for title in common law, under the doctrine of ‘adverse possession’, for it cannot be denied that the Maroons have exercised far in excess of the required twelve (12) years open, quiet, continuous of their traditional lands.

Even though there have been Government attempts to allot the communal Maroon lands to individuals, as well as to ‘take back’ Maroon lands over time, the fact that the majority of Maroon lands remain largely communal land, that is untaxed, shows British and now Jamaican Government acquiescence so as to effectively prevent any adverse claim of ownership by the Government of Jamaica.

The Government of Jamaica would therefore be prevented by the common law doctrine from claiming ownership of traditional non-treaty Maroon lands. This Government recognition, even albeit limited, of Maroon autonomy, has also been acquiesced by the State’s recognition of traditional Maroon courts and territorial jurisdiction.

In practical reality, the Maroons have never had their states recognized juridical, resulting in most if not all Maroons today having acceded to Jamaican nationality and citizenship, thereby subjecting themselves to the rights and obligations of the laws and Constitution of Jamaica.

This of course would not preclude the possibility of dual nationality. Intention to create legal relations/obligations and rights. It may also be misleading to rely solely on Colonial Office. Correspondence and official documentation to evince an intention, or in the case of the British, a lack of intention to be bound by the Treaties written as they were by the British.

By the Grace of God, my Ancestor 4x Great Grandfather "Adam Greenfield" born 1782 in Westmoreland Parrish eluded being sent from the Island into exile along with other Maroons to Nova Scotia, Canada In June 1796.

Instead he arrived by ship to the USA that same year. My ancestor was liberated and received his 'Freedom' April 1798 in Duplin County North Carolina, yet he left behind his family and homeland never to see again.

I wait in sincere anticipation for a positive response.

Esther Darlene Greenfield-Pinkard

Editor's Note

Hi Esther, Thanks for your submission. I am posting your inquiry online so interested persons or parties can contact you at the phone or email address you shared above or via the comments link below.

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