Photograph of ancient artifacts recovered from archeological sites across St. Croix
Just a few of the thousands of prehistoric artifacts from the Folmer Andersen Collection. Some of these objects are on display as part of the new exhibit at Christiansted National Historic Site.

NPS photo

Pieces of the Past - The Human Story of Ancient St. Croix

The pre-Columbian people of St. Croix were part of an Arawakan interaction sphere, a set of culturally similar means of settlement, food production, long distance trade, and iconography etched, carved, and painted on pottery, shell, bone, and stone. An Arawakan diaspora began ca. 500 years Before Common Era (BCE), with people, languages, and cultures expanding up and down the Orinoco River, toward the coast, to the Guianas, and into the Caribbean. St. Croix was on the frontier of this Arawakan world, a world comprised of many different societies and communities that lived and traveled across the entire region.

This exhibit features artifacts collected by Folmer Andersen between 1916 and 1931, from several prehistoric village sites across St. Croix. This collection of over 13,000 prehistoric objects is under the care of the National Park Service at Christiansted National Historic Site.

In this exhibit we explore the routines of daily Amerindian life, the mundane and the sacred, on AyAy, today called St. Croix. We put a face to the first settlers of St. Croix, to the people who arrived by canoe over 2,000 years ago. Through historic documents and personal accounts, ethnographic research, and archeological evidence we are beginning to understand their ways of living, how they envisioned their landscapes, how they organized their villages and houses, their concepts of the sacred, and how they maintained connections with others across vast distances.

photograph of decorated ceramic sherds from exhibit
Fragments of blue and white ceramics, called Chaney on St. Croix, featured in this exhibit

Photo by Rick Starr, for NPS

Chaney - Stories from Migrant Fragments

This exhibit explores how fragments of ceramics, decorated in a variety of styles and colors, are representative of not just history and a cosmopolitan past, but of a process of discovery, economy, and community identity present on the island today. These fragments, buried under the soil, can be found across the island of St. Croix, are symbols of the island’s connections to global economies and changing styles of ceramics. Today, some see these fragments as trash, some as economic opportunity, while others see history and heritage. The exhibit presents a central question - Can someone own the past, or does the past belong to everyone?

This is exhibit is now closed. For information about this exhibit, please contact the park at (340) 773.1460.

Last updated: October 3, 2018

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2100 Church St. #100
Christiansted, VI 00820


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