Rebel Destiny: Among the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

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John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Melville J. Herskovits

There are no roads in the Guiana bush, and what foot paths exist to connect one village with another are difficult to follow and, moreover, are not for the stranger, whether he be white or mulatto. For such as these the highway is the river, with native paddlers alert in their surveillance of a stranger's activities. The Old men on the river have made a tradition of recalling the struggle of the ancestors for freedom and survival, and it is not without significance that one of the three worst crimes among the Bush Ne groes - one that ranks with incest and murder - is inform ing on a Negro to a white man.

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In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works. These Negroes are the descendants of runaway slaves imported from Africa, who took refuge in the dense Guiana bush and established African villages along the rivers whose rapids are their fortifications.

The end of the seventeenth century already found these Negroes in constantly growing numbers up the Suriname River, and before the middle of the next century they were sufficiently organized to make repeated raids on the plantations for guns and gunpowder, for machetes and women. Several campaigns were conducted against them, but eventually final treaties were concluded with the Dutch owners of the colony, which guaranteed them their freedom.

Today when a Bush Negro drinks with a white man his toast is "Free! The Saramacca tribe, of whom we write, is found in the heart of the colony along the upper reaches of the Suriname River called by the Bush Negroes the "Saramacca," and hence so named in this book , and farther south along the Gran Rio and the Pikien Rio.

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This tribe has had the least contact with outside influences, and it is the Saramacca language which differs most from that spoken by the Negroes of the coastal region. The second is the Awka tribe, found mainly along the Marowyne Maroni River, which forms the boundary between French and Dutch Guiana; there are in addition several Awka villages on the lower Suriname.

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Rebel destiny; among the bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

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ID: HD Coulls, Somerville, Wilkie, Ltd. ID: QH ID: ND Shakespear, Frances, photographer. ID: HQ Place: Wellington, N. ID: R Blunt, Wilfrid, ID: DU Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill. Cresswell, Mrs. Frances Edith, illus. Frances Edith, illus Place: Christchurch, N.