The Saramaka Peace Treaty in Sranan: An edition of the 1762 text
(including a copy of the original manuscript)


Jacques Arends, Universiteit van Amsterdam

Margot van den Berg, Universiteit van Amsterdam





The text presented here is the Sranan version of the Saramaka Peace Treaty, which was signed on September 19, 1762, at the junction of Sara Creek and the Suriname River, between the Saramaka Maroons on the one hand and the Dutch colonial government on the other. While the Dutch text of the treaty has been accessible ever since it was published in Hartsinck (1770:802-9), the Sranan text as it was actually read to the Saramaka – most of whom did not know Dutch – at the time of the negotiations remained unknown until it was published recently by Hoogbergen and Polimé (2000).[1][1][2][2] Unfortunately, their edition is marred by a large number of errors, concerning both transcription and interpretation.[3][3] Therefore, we decided to prepare a new transcription, based, of course, on the same original manuscript text.[4][4] As pointed out by Hoogbergen & Polimé (2000:226), the Dutch text of the treaty exists in two versions, one that does and one that does not contain the Saramaka’s responses to the clauses of the treaty. Let us call the former ‘version I’ and the latter ‘version II’. The Sranan version corresponds to version I.[5][5] Our transcription of the Sranan text is accompanied by a translation into English, which – keeping in mind that the text is primarily of interest to creolists – has been kept as literal as possible, so as to enable readers who do not know Sranan to reconstruct the structure of the Sranan text from the translation.

            As to the authorship of the Sranan text, most likely it should be ascribed to Louis Nepveu, the colonial government’s delegate to the negotiations that were held with the Saramaka in March and April 1762. In his report of these negotiations, Nepveu notes that, in explaining the terms of the treaty to the Saramaka, he ‘translated the articles of the treaty word for word into Negro-English [Sranan] for them’ (De Beet & Price 1982:121-2). Nepveu, who was to sign the treaty later that year, had also been the government’s spokesman in an earlier – failed –  attempt to make peace with the Saramaka in 1749. According to lieutenant Creutz’s journal of that earlier expedition, Nepveu was the one ‘who was understood best by [the Saramaka]’ (De Beet & Price 1982:66). De Beet & Price (1982:197n2) refer to Nepveu’s ‘extraordinary knowledge of Sranan and his ease in communicating with the Saramaka’. It should be noted, however, that what Nepveu spoke was probably bakra tongo  (lit. ‘Whites’ language’), the variety of Sranan spoken by the Europeans, rather than nengre tongo (lit. ‘Blacks’ language’). Whatever may be the case, it should be noted that the Europeans apparently were not sufficiently acquainted with Saramaccan, the Saramaka’s creole language closely related to but not mutually intelligible with Sranan, to be able to negotiate with them in that language.

            In the original manuscript the text is divided into two parts: the second part (ff. 180 vo – 183 vo) is formed by the actual clauses of the treaty as they were formulated by the colonial government, while the first part (ff. 177 vo – 179 vo) consists of the responses by the Saramaka Maroons.[6][6] In the edition presented here we have merged the two parts into one (i.e. every clause is followed by the Saramaka’s response) so as to achieve a more natural, integral text. The distinction between the two parts has been preserved typographically by using two different fonts: roman script for the ‘government part’, italic script for the ‘Saramaka part’. Strictly speaking, there is a third part, namely that following the last clause (clause 15). In this part of the text the actual signing of the treaty is described, including the names of the captains (village headmen) who signed the treaty. To distinguish it from the remainder of the text, this part is printed in bold. The only other emendations we have made in our transcription concern punctuation, including the use of ligatures, diacritics, and capitalization. The highly erratic punctuation of the original manuscript has been replaced by a more regular one, designed to enhance the overall readibility of the text. Apart from that, however, the transcription presented here is faithful to the original text (including the occasional placement of an acute accent above the letter <u>, as in, e.g.,  frigúittie ‘forget’). Those few cases where we are uncertain about the reading and/or the interpretation of the manuscript have been indicated by ‘(xxx)’ and ‘(???)’, respectively.

            This is not the place to go into the fascinating but highly complex historical context in which the conclusion of the treaty took place. Therefore, we restrict ourselves here to referring the reader to the most relevant literature on this topic: De Beet & Price (1982) is a collection of relevant historical documents, preceded by an excellent summary of the events leading up to and surrounding the 1762 treaty. It also contains two maps indicating the location of several relevant spots, including the place where the treaty was signed. (An English translation of De Beet & Price 1982 has appeared as Price 1983b.) The Saramaka’s point of view, preserved in their oral history, is represented in Price (1983a, especially pp. 167-81). Dragtenstein (2002), the most extensive general history of marronnage in Suriname to date, contains a chapter (pp. 221-34) on the Saramaka Peace Treaty. Finally, Hoogbergen & Polimé (2000) also provide some useful historical information.

            Together with the Sranan text of the 1863 placard announcing the abolition of slavery in Suriname (published in Helstone & Vernooij 2000:44-9), the Sranan version of the Saramaka Peace Treaty belongs to the core documents in the history of Suriname. As such, these texts deserve to be made more widely available, which is what one of us intends to do in a later publication (Arends in prep.). The transcription presented here, however, serves a more limited purpose, namely to make this text available to the community of creolists as one more addition to the ever growing corpus of early Surinamese Creole texts in the hope it will contribute to a better understanding of the history of creole languages and societies in Suriname and beyond.





Arends, Jacques, in prep. Creole Mama: A history of the creole languages of Suriname.

Bilby, Kenneth, 1997. Swearing by the past, swearing by the future: Sacred oaths, alliances, and treaties among the Guianese and Jamaican Maroons. Ethnohistory 44:655-89.

De Beet, Chris & Richard Price (eds), 1982. De Saramakaanse vrede van 1762: Geselecteerde documenten. Institute for Cultural Anthropology, University of Utrecht.

De Smidt, J. (ed.), 1973. West Indisch plakaatboek: Plakaten, ordonnantiën en andere wetten, uitgevaardigd in Suriname, 1667-1816, deel II (1761-1816). Amsterdam: Emmering.

Dragtenstein, Frank, 2002. ‘De ondraaglijke stoutheid der wegloopers’: Marronage en koloniaal beleid in Suriname, 1667-1768. PhD Diss., University of Utrecht. Institute for Cultural Anthropology, University of Utrecht.

Hartsinck, Jan Jacob, 1770. Beschryving van Guiana… Amsterdam: Tielenburg.

Helstone, Heinrich & Joop Vernooij, 2000. Documentatie afschaffing van de slavernij in Suriname. Paramaribo: no publisher.

Hoogbergen, Wim & Thomas Polimé, 2000. De Saramakaanse vrede in het Sranantongo. Oso 19:221-40.

Price, Richard, 1983a. First-Time: The historical vision of an Afro-American people. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Price, Richard, 1983b. To slay the hydra: Dutch colonial perspectives on the Saramaka wars. Ann Arbor: Karoma.




The text: The Saramaka Peace Treaty in Sranan (1762)



Ë Fassie fou mekie frie nanga boussie nengre foú oppo Serameca nanga Saranam Riba

Peace Treaty (lit. ‘way of making peace’) with the Bush Negroes of the Upper Saramaka and Suriname Rivers


Ë Granman langa coertoe sendie masara Loúis Nepveú foú meki da fri.

The Governor and the Court of Police have sent Mr Louis Nepveu to make peace.[7]


A poti alle dissi santi deja na inni gi dem foe hakisi dem effi dem (xxx)[8] wandi holli dati alle.

He wrote all these things down for them in order to ask them if they are willing to stick to all these agreements.





Ë Alla dem boussie nengre foe oppo Sarameca nanga oppo Saranam sa habie frie nanga alla bacara foe Saranam Condre, en bacara sa frigúittie alla ogrie diesie dem ben doe.

All the Bush Negroes of the Upper Saramaka and the Upper Suriname (Rivers) will have peace with all the Whites of Suriname, and the Whites will forget all the bad things they[9] have done.


Mara nembre dem moessoe doe ogrie moro na bacara, mon gessie Jou, en nanga frie Ingien, effie na dem plantasie nanga goedoe.

However, they should never again do any bad things to the Whites, (???) Jews, nor to the Free Indians, nor to their plantations or their goods.


Ë Dem peki:

They replied:


Dissi fri granboen; nembre no wan ogrie sa dé more fou dem langa bacra, monkisie judew langa vry Ingien diesi de boen langa bacra.

This peace is very good; never again will there be any problem between them and the Whites, (???) Jews, nor with the free Indians who live in peace with the Whites.




ËDem sa moesoe sorie alle dem condre na bacara, en alla dem condre foú Ingien offoe nengre diessie conpé nanga dem, effie innie wan diessie dem sabie, dem sa moessoe sorie dem toe.

They should show all their villages to the Whites, and all the villages of the Indians or Blacks who are their allies, or any village they know, they should show them too.


En dem sa moessoe mekie bakara frie nanga dem en offoe dem no wandie mekie da frie nanga bakara, dem sa moessoe helpie bakara foe goo fettie nanga dem.

And they should force them to make peace with the Whites, and if they do not want to make peace with the Whites, they should help the Whites in fighting them.


ËDa reiti; so dem sa doe. No wan habi fou tan na baca.

They agree; they will do so. They will fully comply with this condition.





ËDem sa moessoe tan libie de na da plessie dem habie dem condre dissi tem, ma datem dem wandie goo liebie na wan tara plesie, dem sa moessoe sendie takie na granman en dem sa moessoe tan tee dem kiessie moffo baca of dem sa can meqúi condre na tara plessie.

They should continue to live right there where they have their villages now, but when they wish to go live at some other place, they should inform the Governor and they should not move until they have received a message back (informing them) whether they can make their village somewhere else.


ËDem sa doe dati.

They will do so.





ËDem sa moessoe callie neem foe alla den hedieman foe dem condre en datem wan com foe dede effie foe commoto, dem sa moessoe sendie takie na granman foe à can sabie offoe à boen.

They should mention the names of all the captains of their villages, and when one should die or step back, they should inform the Governor so he knows it is alright.


ËDissi toe.

(They will do) this too.







ËDem sa moessoe gie bakka alla nengre diesie ben komoto of ronnewe na bacara, sensie dem nengre foe Ouwka ben com na dem nanga Willie.[10]

They should return all the Blacks who have escaped or run away from the Whites since the Auka Maroons came to them with Willie.


No wan fassie dem sa kan teekie foe hollie wan nengre foe bakara diessie dem sa kissie effie diesie sa ronnowe com na dem.

In no way shall they be permitted to keep a Black belonging to the Whites, whom they shall capture or who shall run away to them.


Sensie da tem en so té dorro té goo nembre wantem dem sa holie wan.

From that moment until forever they shall never keep one.


ËFiscalla sa paij dem f50: Sur: mon - da f42 pissie vo serem – ma effie dem kisi dem na krosi bay, na wan plandasie, dem sa kisie tien piesie fo er Sch[11] tee f42, na fasie dem sa ben kisie dem farra  weij, ofoe korosie bay foe fotto.

The treasurer shall pay them fifty guilders in Surinamese money – that is forty-two shilling – but if they capture them close-by, on a plantation, they shall get between ten and forty-two shilling,  depending on whether they will have captured them far away or close to Paramaribo.


En alla dem ronne wee nengre disie dem tarri backa, garan man effie coúroetoe sa can doe innie sandie dem wandie nanga dem.

And all the run-away Blacks they return, the Governor or the Court shall be permitted to do anything they like with them.


ËEn foe da hedde, al wassie dem nengre foe wie sa wandie foe takie datie dem ronnowe bikasie dem masara offoe bacara doe dem ogrie, dem boesie Saramaca sa moessoe gie dem bakka da tem dem com na dem han, bicassie granman nanga couroetoe nomo moessie loekoe na datie.

And for that reason, even if our slaves may wish to say they ran away because their master or the Whites did them harm, the Bush Saramaka should return them when they come in their hands, because only the Governor and the Court should take care of that.


ËDem swerie no wan negre foú bacra kom na dem sensie Willi kom taki fou dissi  frie.

They swear not a single Black has come to them since Willi came to talk about this peace.


Effi inniwan nengre kom na dem, dem no sa holli no wan nimbre; dem sa tiari dem na gran man.

If any Black comes to them, they will never keep any of them; they will bring them to the Governor.


So aleki bakra poti da santi gi dem, a boen na dem; dem sa holi reiti.

The way the Whites propose it to them, it is alright with them; they will stick to it.





ËHoe fa dem sa wandie foe takie effie foe doe, dem no sa moessoe hollie nowan bacara nengre alwasie grandie of pikien na dem mindrie.

Whatever they[12] may say or do, they should not keep any Black belonging to the Whites, whether big or small, in their midst.


En datem wan foe dem sa wandie datie effie wan so sandie diesie sa de foe boroko diesie frié, dan alla dem tarra wan sa moesoe gie hem na bakara han foe bakara kan doe nanga hem so allequi dem sa membre à sa boen.

And when one of them should want (to do) that or anything that is bound to break this peace, then all the others should hand him over to the Whites so the Whites can do with him whatever they will think will be right.


ËEn effie wan heddeman na oenoe mindrie[13] doe wan so sandie disie dem fredie

foe kiesie hem, bicasie à habie bigie teij teij, dem sa moessoe sendie takie na ga granman,[14] fou à kan sendie wan comando nanga soldatie foe goo fettie foe kiesie hem.

And if a captain in your midst does something like that and they are afraid to capture him because he has a powerful charm, they should inform the Governor so he can send a military command to go fight and capture him.


En dan diesie tan hollie nanga bakara sa moesoe helpie foe kiesie dem ogrie wan foe bacara sa kan dewengie dem foe tan boen nanga bakara en fou holi diesie frie boen boen.

And then those who are friends with the Whites should help capture the evil ones so the Whites can force them to be friends with the Whites and to stick strictly to this peace.


ËDa reiti; so dem sa doe. Nembre wan sa habbi hatti kibri wan nengre foe bakra.

They agree; they will do so. Never shall anyone dare to hide a Black from the Whites.





ËEffie granman of koeroetoe sendie moffo gi na dem, takie ningre ron weij effie mekie troblie na plandasie en kalie dem foe kom helpie foú kisi dem, onoe sa moesoe goo foe kiesie dem, en tiarrie dem kom nà fotto; dan dem sa kissie dem paijman.

If the Governor or the Court sends them a message saying that Blacks ran away or caused trouble on the plantations and orders them to come help capture them, you should go capture them and bring them to Paramaribo; then they will get their payment.


ËDa boen; dem sa kom innitem effi dem kisi jounsoú fou granman.

They agree; they will come anytime they will receive a message from the Governor.





ËEffie fettie kom na condre foe tarra condre, bacara effoe tarra boesie nengre, innie

wan effie innie plessie dem sa dé, dan onnoe Saramaca vrie man sa moesoe kom foe helpie bacara, foe Saranam Condre.

If the colony should get in a war with another nation, whether they are Whites or other Maroons, whoever or wherever they may be, then you Saramaka Free Blacks should come help the Whites, for the sake of Suriname.


ËEn dem no sa moesoe mankerie foe sendie soo menni man nanga gon allekie grandiman nanga couroetoe sa haksie foe goo na da plessie grandman sa takie of sendie takie na dem, en fou harkie na dissie sama dissie granman sa pottie foe tirrie dem, foe helpie bacara inni fassie dem sa kan doe.

And they should not fail to send as many armed men as the Governor and the Court will ask to the place the Governor will (have somebody) tell them, and to obey the person the Governor will appoint to lead them, to help the Whites any way they can.


Selfie effie dem bossie nengre na baka ouwka of mapana nengre disie frie arrede nanga bacara sa wandie foe mekie trobie offoe doe bacara ogrie, dan dem sa mossoe hilpie bacara foe goo fettie nanga dem en foe kissie dem effie foe mekie dem tan boen nanga bakara en holi da frie reijtie nomo.

Even if the Bush Negroes behind Auka or the Mapana Blacks,[15] who already made peace with the Whites, should wish to make trouble or do bad things to the Whites, then they should help the Whites to go fight them and capture them, or to make them become friends with the Whites and stick strictly to the peace.


ËDissi toe, a boen; dem sa doe.

(They agree with) this too; they will do so.





ËDatem wan sandie sa fadom na dem mindrie datie dem sa moesoe sendie foe granman sabie, dan dem sa kan sendie vyffie of sieksie voe dem en da tem dem com na fotto dem sa moessoe go rettie na granman en dem no sa kan goo wan plessie effoe granman sa moessoe sabie.

When anything should occur among them that they should report so the Governor will know, then they will be permitted to send five or six of them, and when they arrive in Paramaribo they should go to the Governor immediately and they will not be permitted to go anywhere unless the Governor knows.


En datem sama foe onnoe sa tiarie ronnewe nengre of sama dissie dem sa

kissie kom na fotto, dan dem sa kissi dem monie josno, en dem sa mossoe loekoe dem jamjam serefie sondro bacara sa hoefoe foe gie dem.

And when your people will bring run-away Blacks or (other) people they captured to Paramaribo, then they should collect their money right-away, and they will have to take care of their food themselves without the Whites having to give them any.


ËDisie toe.

(They agree to) this too.




ËDem sa kan kom alla jarrie 50 foe onnoe na Saramaka riba, thee na wannica criqúi, effie na arwaticabo, effie na Saranam riba, thee na victoria, foe tiarrie alla sandie dissie dem sa habie foe serrie, allekie hamaka, katoen, hoedoe, fouwloe, coeriara, effoe innie sandie.

Every year fifty of you will be permitted to come to the Saramaka River, as far as Wanica Creek, or to Arwaticabo Creek, or to the Suriname River, as far as Victoria, to bring everything they will have to sell, such as hammocks, cotton, wood, fowl, dug-out canoes, or anything (else).


Marra effoe dem sa wandie tiarrie dem sandie goo na fotto foe serrie, dan dem no sa kan sendie moro na tien sama.

But if they should wish to bring their things to Paramaribo in order to sell them, then they will not be permitted to send more than ten people.


ËEn soo allekie dem sa kom na fotto nanga dem sannie dissie dem sa wandie serie, dan dem sa mossoe mekie granman sabie bifossie, en datem dem sa dé na fotto, dan dem no sa moessoe wakka na sabatem passa aytie jourroe na passie foe somtem dem no sa kissie trobie nanga bacara, dissie sa membre dem na slaaf.

And when they will come to Paramaribo with the things they wish to sell, then they should inform the Governor in advance, and once they are in Paramaribo they will not be permitted to be out after eight o’clock at night, so that they will not perhaps get in trouble with Whites who may think they are slaves.


Dem no sa waka na passie nanga gon, houwroe offoe langa neffie.

They will not be permitted to go out with guns, machetes or knives.


ËA boen toe, mara dem no sa waka toemoessi na Saramaka sei.

This is alright too; however, they will not come to the Saramaka River area very often.


Dem hakisi fou wakka na sabatem, granman langa Courtoe plesi fou gidem wan marki

fou weri.

They request the Governor and the Court to give them a sign they can wear when they are out (in Paramaribo) at night.





ËDem sa moessoe loekoe boen dem no gie astrantie moffo of doe wan ogrie na bacara.

They should take good care not to be impudent or to do any bad things to the Whites.


Dem sa moessoe hollie dem serefie allekie dem frieman diesie wie mekie na wie miendrie.

They should behave like the Blacks among ourselves to whom we gave their freedom.[16]


Somtem effoe dem kom foe kissie kwarrie nanga wan bacara effoe bacara kom foe doe

dem ogrie dem sa moessoe goo takie gie granman en datem a sa fendie datie dissie sama sa habie rettie, a sa mekie a sa kiesie hem rettie.

Should they perhaps get into a quarrel with a White or should a White do them any harm, they should inform the Governor, and when he feels this person is right, he shall make sure justice will be done.


ËEn onnoe sa moessoe doe so sreffie na onnoe ondro: dissie sa kom foe doe ogrie, onnoe sa moessoe fom hem, en serrefie killie hem, effoe da ogrie bigie, effoe gie hem abra na bacara.

And you should do likewise among yourselves: who shall do bad things, you should beat him, and even kill him, if it is a big evil, or hand him over to the Whites.


Moro nosso effoe wan foe dem doe of wandi doe wan sandie fou broko dissie frie effie wan foe dem doe ogrie na bacara, bakara sa kan kissie dem en straffe dem so allekie dem doe tarra friman.

Especially if one of them does or wishes to do something to break this peace or if one of them does bad things to the Whites, the Whites will be permitted to capture them and punish them just like they do with other Free Blacks.


ËDissi boen; dem sa doe dati toe.

This is alright; they will do that too.





ËNembre dem sa moessoe mekie wan conpé nanga no wan samma, no langa mapana of ouwca frieman toe, foe doe innie bacara ogrie effoe foe helpie dem na innie wan fasie, foe mekkie wan ogrie na bacara.

Never should they become allies with anybody, not with the Mapana Maroons or Auka Maroons, to do bad things to any White or to help them in any way to do bad things to the Whites.


ËNembre dem sa doe so sandi.

Never will they do such a thing.





ËFoe mekie dissi frie tranga, onnoe sa kissie dem sandie dissie pottie na briffie disie

mi habie hija na mie.

In order to make this peace strong, you will receive the things that were put in the letter I have here with me.[17]


Marra na onnoe sey onnoe sa moessoe gie - foe bacara sa kan bliebie onnoe toe - fo pikien foe onnoe.

But from your side you will have to give four of your children, so the Whites shall be able to trust you too.


En dem fo pikien sa moessoe de pikien foe dem heddeman, en datem onnoe de foe takie sweerie, onnoe sa moessoe swerrie toe takie dem pikin dissie onnoe pottie na wie han, dem na reijtie piekien foe heddeman.

And these four children should be captains’ children, and when you will take your oath, you should also swear that the children you will hand over to us are really the children of captains.


Soo allekie oenoe sa gie dem nem dissie wie sa moessoe sabie, so foe tata langa mama.

Similarly, you should give their names, which we must know, both of their father and their mother.


ËEn alla heddeman dissie no sa ben kan kom foe swerie disie frie, moessoe sendie samma foe dem.

And all the captains who will not be able to come to take their oath on this peace, should send somebody in their place.


Dem pottie da swerrie na dem han foe dem sama dissie dem sendie sa moessoe swerrie da frie foe dem.

They (should) hand over their oath to them so the people they will send will take their oath on the peace for them.


Onnoe sa moessoe swerrie toe dattie onnoe no habie no wan condre morro allekie disie onnoe kallie nem foe dem arrede gie na wie bacara.

You should swear also that you do not have any other villages than those whose names you have already mentioned to us Whites.


En alla dem disie no wandie foe mekie frie nanga bacara, onnoe no sa kibirie dem.

And all those who do not wish to make peace with the Whites, you should not harbour them.


Onnoe sa moesoe fettie foe mekie dem frie en offoe onnoe kissie dem na fettie, onnoe sa kan serie dem na bacara.

You should force them to accept the peace and if you capture them in battle, you will be permitted to sell them to the Whites.


ËDem gi 4 sama foe dem solanga dem hediman pikin no kom langa dem.

They will give four of their people (as hostages) until the captains’ children will have arrived there.


Datem dem kom teki dem tara presenti goedoe, dem sa gie pikien foe heddeman, foe teki

dem 4 diesi dem gi baka.

When they will come to collect the other gifts, they will hand over the captains’ children and they will take these four back.





ËDem presentie disie sa libie foe gie onoe jette; onnoe sa moessoe kom foe teekie dem na Victoria disie den kalie Monima.

The presents that are still waiting to be given to you,[18] you should come collect them at Victoria, called Monima by them.


ËDem sa kom teki dem santi na Monima, mara effi granman langa coertoe plessi fou mekki a go pikien moro na oppo, da granboen.

They will collect the goods at Monima, but it would be very good if the Governor and the Court would have it bring a little more upstream.





ËDem nengre dissi ben helpie foe killie dem bacara disie ben com foe mekie da fossie frie - Picolet nanga dem toe tarawan – dem sa moessoe gie dem na granman nanga couroutoe abara.

Those Blacks who helped killing the Whites who came to make the first peace – Picolet and the other two[19] – they should hand them over to the Governor and the Court.


En effoe onnoe no kan doe dattie, dan onnoe sa moessoe hollie dem allekie katibo na onnoe mindrie.

And if you cannot do that, then you should keep them as slaves in your midst.


En dem no sa moessoe kom nembre na wan plandassie offoe na fotto.

And they should never come to any plantation nor to Paramaribo.


ËPoudroe of krúiti betere fou dem bikassi kondre de na dem bakka jetti disi dem no sabi.[20]

Gun powder or gun shot is better for them because there are still places in the interior they are not familiar with.


Dem wandi fou hondi langa fou soutoú gi dedi sama foú dem, Ëno fou doe wan ogri, ma fou holi dissi fri quetti.

They want to hunt and to fire in honor of their dead, not to do bad things, but to truly keep the peace.




ËDa so dem Saramaka Ningre teki da fri na fesi fou masara Dorich langa sergant Ritter.[21]

This is how the Saramaka accepted the peace in the presence of Mr Dörig and Sergeant Van Rillertsz.


Masara Nepveu lesi gi dem. Alle taki, da reiti so; dem wan sweri da fri.

Mr Nepveu read it to them. They all said it was good this way; they wanted to take an oath on the peace.


Dem hediman selfi effi di samma dem sendi nem foe dem:[22]

The captains themselves or the people they sent in their names:


ËDarie, hedeman voe alla;

Dabí, the paramount chief;


Abini, waca na hem baca;

Abini, his successor;


Coffij; Tanie, com na hem plesi;

Kofi, represented by Tani;


Lamotte; Jebooy, com na hem plesie;

Lamotte, represented by Jebooy;





Abram; Qúamina, na hem plesi;

Abram, represented by Quamina;


Ettia (xxx); Kwakoe;

Étja (also known as) Kwakú;


Prima; Acapo na hem plesie.

Primo, represented by Akapo.


ËMaconde, foe Toefinga; Mafoengoe na hem plessie;

Makonde, of the Tufingas,[23] represented by Afungu;


Cabriatie & Attama selfi;

Kabriati and Antamá (who were present) themselves;


Jantie Acoúrie; Monima; Pianga na hem plessie;

Jantie Akuri,[24] represented by Monima and Pianga;


Moesinga; Jantie na hem plessie.

Musinga, represented by Jantie.


ËDem alla sweri gado langa gron na dem reiti fassie taki da so dem sa holi da fri,

en dem sa mekki ibriwan holi so alleki wi ben poti, dede na libi.

They all took an oath to God and to the land, entirely according to their custom,[25] saying that this is how they will stick to the peace, and they will make everybody do so just like we wrote it down, until they die.









[7] Since the word frie covers both the meanings of ‘peace’ and ‘treaty’, we have chosen to translate it by either one, depending on the context.

[8] Presumably, an erroneous second occurrence of the word dem was crossed out here.

[9] I.e. the Saramaka (!).

[10] dem engre foe Ouwka refers to the present-day Ndyuka (or Okanisi); Ouwka refers to the area (in those days referred to as ‘behind the Auka plantation’) where part of the Ndyuka Maroons were living at the time. Willie (or Wíi) was a Saramaka, who lived among the Ndyuka at the time when peace was made with the latter (in 1760) and who suggested the Saramaka make a similar peace with the colonial government.

[11] This part of the text (fo er Sch) is not entirely clear.

[12] I.e. run-away slaves coming to the Saramaka.

[13] Here, as in several other places in the text, the second plural pronoun is used where the third plural would be expected; this inconsistency has been preserved in our translation.

[14] Probably a writing error (na ga granman for na granman).

[15] Mapana nengre is how the Saramaka referred to the Ndyuka, who lived along the Mapana Creek for some time (De Beet & Price 1982:202n7). See also note 9 above.

[16] I.e the manumitted slaves or ‘Free Blacks’.

[17] This refers to the ‘gifts’ (from the colonial perspective) or ‘retributions’ (from the Saramaka perspective) to be delivered to the Saramaka as part of the agreement.

[18] These had to be shipped from the Netherlands.

[19] This refers to an event that took place during the first attempt at peace, in 1749, when three members of the colonial delegation were killed.

[20] The fact that there does not seem to be any connection between this reply on the part of the Saramaka and the text of clause 15 is clarified by the Dutch text of the treaty, which contains a Nota Bene, saying that at this point the Whites tried to talk the Maroons into accepting an alternative gift instead of gun powder.

[21] These two military men are referred to in other documents as Dörig and Van Rillertsz.

[22] Since at this time the colonial government was not yet very well aware of the political organization of the Saramaka (De Beet & Price 1982:204n3), some inconsistencies may be present in this list. In our translation we have transcribed the names as they are known from other historical sources. Additional information on the captains and their villages is given by De Beet & Price (1982:29, 200-1, notes 2 and 3).

[23] The ethnonym Toefingas (< ‘two fingers’) refers to a tiny group of Amerindians, who lived among the Saramaka and whose members were said to have only two fingers on each hand and two toes on each foot (De Beet & Price 1982:206n16). Hartsinck (1770:811-2), where a brief description as well as two illustrations can be found, claims they spoke ‘mostly Negro Portuguese’.

[24] The treaty also involved a small number of Akurio Indians, who lived among the Matawai Maroons (De Beet & Price 1982:206n16).

[25] For an interesting discussion of these ‘customs’, see Bilby (1997).