The excavations are carried out in a disrespectful manner and there is no involvement and input from archaeologists from the African diaspora nor the descendant community. The reasons why the archaeological research is being conducted are highly questionable. There is a lack of transparency from both the local government and the research team.
The research team is led by the archeological organization SECAR (St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research) that conducted a similar excavation at Godet, a plantation on the west coast of the island. "They worked in secret, left the site in a deplorable condition and put the remains somewhere without telling the local community where they are or what they did with them”, says Kenneth Cuvalay in a press release.
Despite suspension of archaeological excavations announced by the local government on July 14, objections are still being raised. We have issued a press release on July 19. We still have many questions and concerns. It is one step forward, but we are not quite there yet. Suspension does not mean discontinuance. Does this mean scientific suspension and discontinuation of our ancestral remains in laboratories outside of St. Eustatius? The local government now talks about the installment of a 'commission of experts'. Who will be on this commission? Friends of SECAR? More parachuted civil servants from the Dutch mainland?
St. Eustatius is a small island with 3,500 inhabitants. In the 18th century, it was the largest transit port of the transatlantic slave trade in the Western Hemisphere.
- Kenneth Cuvalay, Chair Ubuntu Connected Front
Caribbean and Tilburg
- Derrick Simmons, Coordinator Ubuntu Connected Front Caribbean
- Xiomara Balentina, President Brighter Path Foundation St. Eustatius
- George Berkel, Vice President grassroots movement SEAD (St. Eustatius Awareness and Development Movement)
The objectives of the protests are outlined in the online petition
- the respectful treatment of the ancestral remains;
- engagement of the descendant community in the decision-making and research process;
- the reburial at the original site of rediscovery, and placement of a permanent memorial.
We need to work towards a more collaborative and participatory archaeology in the Netherlands, that has the ethics and sensibility to go into dialogue with us, as the Afrikan descendant community.
We need to start an urgent debate on decolonizing Dutch archaeological regulations and practices.
Moreover, we need to extend that debate to a global level for there are many more African Burial Grounds at risk in the Americas.
- July 28, 2021 - The Government of St. Eustatius press release on the installation of the Statia Heritage Research Commission
- July 19, 2021 - Our joint press release “Criticism remains despite suspension of excavations” (see also e.g. The Daily Herald, St. Maarten)
- July 14, 2021 - St. Eustatius government announces suspending excavations
- July 12, 2021 - Our joint press release “Opposition is mounting to archaeological excavations on Caribbean island St. Eustatius” (PDF document)
- July 3, 2021 - Launch of our online Petition Stop the Excavations at St. Eustatius' African Burial Ground
- July 1, 2021 - Speech by Kenneth Cuvalay at Nelson Mandela Park Amsterdam on the occasion
Speech July 1, Nelson Mandelapark
of the July 1st Commemoration of Abolition of Slavery (Emancipation Day) (organized by Grani Boni)
- June 22, 2021 - Our letter to Parliamentary Committees Kingdom Relations and Education, Culture and Science, and the National Agency of Cultural Heritage
- June 21, 2021 - Town Hall Meeting on Archaeological Research St. Eustatius Government. Basically, this meeting was a one-way presentation of latest developments. When people wanted to voice their opinion, they were told just to ask questions, not state opinions.
- June 20, 2021 - Letter to St. Eustatius Government and Island Council
- June 8, 2021 - Mini symposium “A Sacred Space For Our Ancestors” on the excavations in St. Eustatius with experts in the Dutch Caribbean
- July 19, 2021 - Nu.cw (in Dutch)
- July 19, 2021 - The Daily Herald
- July 19, 2021 - Jamaica News
https://jamaica.bpositivenow.com/opposes-the-archeological-excavations-of-st-eustatius-recurring-islands/ WARNING POPUP-ADVERTISEMENTS!
- July 18, 2021 - Volkskrant (in Dutch)
- July 15, 2021 - Curacao.nu (in Dutch)
- July 15, 2021 - De Kanttekening (in Dutch)
- July 15, 2021 - Nu.cw (in Dutch)
- July 14, 2021 - Koninkrijk.nu (in Dutch)
- July 13, 2021 - Afro Magazine (in Dutch)
- July 12, 2021 - Antilliaans Dagblad (in Dutch)
- July 12, 2021 - Werkgroep Caraibische Letteren (in Dutch)
- July 12, 2021 - BES Reporter
- The Daily Herald, July 12, 2021 – in print
- Jul 11, 2021 - BES Reporter
- July 4, 2021 - BES Reporter
- July 3, 2021 - Radio interview with Kenneth Cuvalay by Prof. Dr. Verene A. Shepherd, Director Centre for Reparation Research, The University of the West Indies (UWI) in the program “Talking History” on NationWide Radio 90 FM in Jamaica
- June 30, 2021 - Sir Hilary Beckles responds to our question in a Q&A after his Keti Koti lecture on reparations at Pakhuis De Zwijger (starting at 53m, 52 sec).
- June 20, 2021 - Tv Interview with Kenneth Cuvalay in Talkshow KRAAK (Omroep Brabant, in Dutch)
- June 16, 2021 - Newspaper article on excavations with Kenneth Cuvalay (in Dutch) ‘Archeologen onteren mijn voorouders’, vindt Tilburger van opgravingen op Sint Eustatius
- June 2, 2021 - Remains of Enslaved People Found at Site of 18th-Century Caribbean Plantation https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/archaeologists-unearth-18th-century-grave-enslaved-people-caribbean-island-180977870/