National Park's Thursday lecture to spotlight Salt River


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ST. CROIX - What's available at Salt River - and how those resources can best be protected - will be the focus as the National Park Service-St. Croix Lecture Series continues on Thursday.

"The most striking feature of Salt River Bay is that human beings have been wanting to be living there, arguing and fighting over that site, that place, that bay, for hundreds of years," said David Goldstein, chief of interpretation and education at the National Park Service sites on St. Croix. "People have just wanted to be there, because it is a really important conjunction between freshwater and saltwater, because it offers a set of resources, of vistas, of landscape features that for human beings happen to be irrestible."

He noted that the appeal seems to extend "across cultures and across times."

"That's what makes it so interesting to be preserved as part of the National Park Service," he said.

Thursday's lecture by Joshua Torres, cultural resources manager for the National Park Service sites on St. Croix, is titled "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Archaeological Resources of Salt River Bay National Historic Site and Ecological Preserve," according to a statement the National Park Service released.

The talk will cover more than 100 years of archaelogical investigations that have occurred within the boundary of the park, "making it the site of some of the oldest investigations in the United States," the release said.

Part of the lecture's focus will just be to let people know what's out there, Goldstein said.

"A lot of people still, after hundreds of years knowing Columbus landed at Salt River Bay, a lot of people still don't know what sites they can see," Goldstein said. "We freely in this Park Service talk about 2,200 years of history on St. Croix."

The archeological landscape at Salt River, layer upon layer of it, has a rich complexity, according to Goldstein.

"Josh is going to try to demonstrate graphically to the public the palimpsest of archelogical sites, of historical sites, that are all sitting on top of one another," Goldstein said.

Torres is also planning to outline the histories of the sites and discuss what is known about the historic and Amerindian resources within the park, according to the release. It notes that there is "particular concern" over the state of the Amerindian ceremonial ball court and Fort Salé at Salt River Point-Columbus Landing.

The discussion will feature the types of sites the Park Service believes exist at Salt River, the destruction to some of those sites that has occurred, and the type of support and preservation that's needed, Goldstein said.

"People want to make sure the resources of the Virgin Islands are protected for Virgin Islanders," he said. "I think that's a big concern on a lot of levels, whether you're a 10th generation Crucian or you just got here."

In addition, Jean Devera, an Eagle Scout candidate for Boy Scouts of America Troop 227, will present findings of his recent project, which involved assisting National Park Service staff in delineating a newly-located Amerindian site within the park, the release said.

Both talks will include information about the National Park Service's cultural resource mandates and efforts within the park, the release said.

The lecture is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Danish Guinea West India Company Warehouse/Slave Market Building and is free and open to the public.

The Christiansted National Historic Site parking lot will be open for this event until 7 p.m. Thursday.

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