Thursday, March 27, 2008


Here at the Park, we are reminded every day that volunteers are the driving force behind the preservation of the unique mix of history and prehistory that the Virgin Islands has seen pass by. This island is always revealing something new, something exciting, something that connects us all through culture and we are so glad when visitors and volunteers take an active role in those revelations and preservations. This blog is dedicated to those folks who have rolled through Cinnamon Bay, Hassel Island, and the myriad of other places in this part of the world where we are continualy learning about the past. Please note that this is just a small sampling of people we'd like to recognize...every volunteer and visitor is so important to accomplishing our mission!

Junior archaeologist Austin Allen was visiting Cinnamon Bay with his family and keeping an eye to the ground when he came across a good-sized piece of handbuilt Taino pottery that a crab had brought to the surface in his digging. Austin very intelligently understood that archaeology works on the premise of context and that the pottery would not offer us as much information had he picked it up and brought it to the lab rather than leave it in situ. Therefore, he recorded its place on the ground and came to bring us to the artifact. Thanks for leaving it in place, Austin! You set a very valuable example for others.

Jeff Chabot, pictured above center with a group of volunteers, tirelessly works to keep the ruins on island free of debris and unclogged of weeds and brush so that they may be enjoyed by everyone. This group joined us last week for a hot several hours on Hassel Island clearing invasive species and learning about its history. Jeff always needs volunteers with an interest in taking part in preserving St. John's wonderful maritime and sugar mill/planation history. For more information on how to take part, please contact the Friends.

Daniel, pictured above with intern Katie Fuller made us all smile with his serious interest in archaeology. Many kids who come to Cinnamon Bay would rather play in the water, but our friend here was adament about learning about artifacts and preservation. He sat and gently washed artifacts for over an hour, asking great questions and making smart hypotheses about what the objects represented. He did a great job with helping us to wash Hassel Island artifacts!

Adam White was snorkeling and found a prehistoric pottery sherd that he brought into the lab. Like Adam, we hope that all the visitors that we interact with will come away with a better knowledge of our cultural resources.

! Jillian and Katie Cataloging Creque Marine Surface Collection

My time here as an intern has come to a close and I'm so sad to be leaving island tomorrow to return to D.C. However, I feel very fulfilled by this intern experience and would be glad to speak to other potential interns about what I've learned here. The Park Service in the USVI has a small but spirited team, and I was glad to take part in the analysis, dating, cataloguing, and numbering of an entire accession of Hassel Island artifacts. The work was tedious, but I didn't ever expect to be able to distinguish pearlware from whiteware, french flint from british flint, or tin enamel from lead glaze and I certainly never expected to be able to rattle off the dates associated with those diagnostics! The cataloguing of almost 800 items is a happy accomplishment for a period of two months, among other lessons that I learned such as an introduction to the Park Service and resource management, visitor interpretation, open shovel tests, among other lessons. I am so very grateful to the friends here who hosted me, and the true Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park Organization for making internships possible for students like me. I believe I'll be back to Cinnamon Bay sooner than anyone expectsSigning off from the biosphere....Jillian.

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