STEP INTO OUR
PAST TO PRESERVE OUR FUTURE...

Salt River Bay is a cultural and historical gem in the Caribbean.
As early as 1880, archeological discoveries in Salt River Bay shed light on the lives and traditions of at least two indigenous Amerindian tribes, six European colonial occupations, myriad African Diaspora communities, and forced slave migrations, making St. Croix one of the most culturally diverse communities in the Caribbean. Researchers and visitors alike can observe first-hand the challenges to sustain life in the islands, and the solutions used by different groups, the adaptation of plant, fish and animal species to meet these challenges.

Important discoveries have been made at Salt River Bay. The Bay is the landing site of Christopher Columbus’ second voyage and the site of St. Croix’s major indigenous ceremonial center, which held a stone-lined ball court. The first recorded skirmish between Europeans and Amerindians in the New World took place at the peninsula known as Cabos de las Flechas (Cape of Arrows). The only surviving structural evidence of this turbulent period in Virgin Island history is the triangular earthwork fortification at Salt River. The French referred to it initially as Fort Flamand (‘the Flemish Fort”) and later as Fort Sales. This is the oldest fort in North America. Judith’s Fancy, on Hemer’s Peninsula on the north side of St Croix, is the site of a historic sugar plantation during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The most recent archeological excavation at a prehistoric village that dates to ca. A.D. 400-600 was conducted by a joint study by the National Park Service and South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology (SCIAA), University of South Carolina (USC) and the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) between May 5 – June 4, 2011*. The prehistoric site was on the grounds of Judith’s Fancy, the proposed site of the MREC project at Salt River Bay! The excavations produced interesting information about the daily lives of St. Croix’s earliest inhabitants, such as cooking, housing construction and ceremonial rites. Fragments of pottery, tools and vessels were discovered on this nearly 1,500-year old archeological site, and date back to those found in other Caribbean sites dating 400 B.C. to A.D. 500.

The cultural, historical and natural treasures… beauty of the land and waterscapes, the ecosystem, the bio bay, the potential desecration of the largest remaining mangrove forest in St. Croix… are all at a crossroads with the decision to locate the MREC project here. The national park was established to preserve this rich heritage, so that residents and visitors to St. Croix can all benefit from its beauty, history and charm. Destroying it to build a research campus and marina for a limited number of people to experience is beyond comprehension. This site has been the victim of many skirmishes and fallen to the domination of a select few over the centuries. It is our challenge now to speak up for the silenced voices of the past and those endangered species and natural wonders whose cries go unheard today.
“Building a campus, research center, marine lab and marina on sacred land which still has much to tell and share with us is incredulous.”
*For more detailed information on this study, please visit http://www.nps.gov/history/archeology/sites/npSites/saltRiverBay.htm
http://www.nps.gov/seac/research/pub/seacreports/SEAC-01953.pdf