The word « mawon », or « maroon » in English, is derived from the American Spanish word cimarrón, meaning “wild” or “untamed”. The word was first used in Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) to refer to feral cattle. In the early days of the colonial period, it was used to refer to enslaved indigenous peoples who escaped to the hills. By the early 1530s, it was used to refer to African slaves who did the same and mixed with the indigenous peoples to form independent settlements throughout the Americas. Some suggest that the word derives ultimately from the Arawakan root word simarabo, construed as “fugitive”, in the Arawakan language spoken by the Taíno people native to the island. In contemporary Haiti, mawon refers to someone who is hiding.

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