Ivelyn Harris - Maroon Artisan/Crafter/Healer
Directly descended from heroine and first Maroon leader, Queen "Nanny of the Windward Maroons", Ivelyn Harris is a lady “bush doctor”, traditional healer, herbalist, and artisan/crafter extraordinaire!!
Ivelyn Harris lives in Portland's Rio Grande Valley between the John Crow and Blue Mountain ranges, in Cornwall Barracks, a mile from the larger Windward Maroon capital of Moore Town and about 15 miles up the valley from Berridale.
Ivey runs Nanny of the Maroons Traditional Craft, a cooperative that employs women in her community, with a goal of preserving time-honored 300 year old Maroon art and crafts. She designs and creates beautiful traditional Maroon baskets from molded vines and hand-stitched coconut palm. Ancient techniques handed down over the generations by her ancestors help her to craft these and other items, such as handmade paper, from sustainable (and renewable!) natural materials.
Nanny of the Maroons
Queen Nanny of the Windward Maroons is presumed to have been born around the 1680’s in Africa’s Gold Coast (now known as Ghana). She is the sole woman among the seven national heroes of Jamaica and is depicted on the Jamaican $500 bill (pictured below). Along with other slaves, most of them African-born, Nanny escaped into the mountainous landscape of Jamaica and helped to form a community of free women, men and children - the Maroons.
The Maroons vigorously fought the British between 1725 and 1740, resulting in treaties whereby the British agreed to recognize and uphold their status as free people. Their original home of “Nanny Town” was destroyed by the British and Moore Town, founded in 1734, is now the primary home of the Windward Maroons.
In addition to her crafts, Ivey Harris makes her own line of herbal remedies and offers a traditional herbal "bush bath". You can visit, have a tour and learn about bush medicine, but arrangements MUST be made in advance through MaryLou of Unique Destinations, an eco-travel company based in Rhode Island. Also visit Unique Destinations' Facebook page for more information about the area. You can also get more information about Ivelyn Harris at PortAntonioJamaica.com.