SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Statia Heritage Research Commission (SHRC) has submitted its final report to the Public Entity St. Eustatius on January 13th, 2022. This report includes concise recommendations for revisions in government practice and the implementation of international standards for heritage research of ancestral burials on Statia (and the BES islands).
The SHRC recommendations include the priority role of the Community Voice in heritage research, the appropriate policies for handling of artifact collections, mitigation processes, and the respect of human remains. The advice also includes recommendations for practical administrative revisions of systemic issues such as, heritage research responsibilities, and research implementation with thorough community engagement.
SHRC conducted a series of stakeholder interviews, documents review, and organized local Statian community inquires to gather opinions on this sensitive issue. The results of these inquiries are also included in the report.
The report will first be presented to the next Central Committee of the Island Council, on Thursday, January 27th, 2022.
The presentation to the Central Committee of the Island Council will be done by Dr. Jay Haviser, as a chair of the SHRC, with assistance from Ms. Xiomara Balentina, Mr. Ismael Berkel, Mr. Paul Spanner and Mr. Raimie Richardson as Statian members of the SHRC. On the same day a Press Release with the most important findings will be published, including the full report provided to all stakeholders.
Townhall sessions in smaller settings will be organized for the public to ask questions and hear the results of this investigation. Due to the current covid-19 situation on Statia a special protocol will be put in place to accommodate the presentation of the report to stakeholders and also for the hosting of Town Hall Meetings. The schedule for these informative meetings will be shared soon.
SHRC was officially installed on Friday, September 17th, 2021. The assignment of the commission consisted mainly of two key points. One was to evaluate the Golden Rock burial ground and to make recommendations on how to continue with this specific project.
And secondly, SHRC would provide community and experts opinions on cultural heritage research practices on Statia including recommendations for changes as required by international standards.
SHRC was initiated in July 2021 and started preparations in response to the public criticisms of current heritage research practices and the recent Golden Rock Burial Ground excavation of enslaved Africans.
With the formal decree designated last on September 17th, SHRC consist of 15 members, including 5 Statian Community leaders and 10 Caribbean professionals from six countries.
The chair of the SHRC, Dr. Jay Haviser, was selected primarily due to his position as President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), and his decades of experience in the Netherlands Caribbean.
All the SHRC members have significant professional experience and community leadership roles, both on Statia and in the Caribbean.
The relevance of this SHRC report has been to directly approach the systemic factors that surround issues of heritage research for the Golden Rock case and for the broader role of Heritage for Statia, from a perspective of respect for Statia’s culture and ancestors.
However, the significance of this report reaches beyond the island of Statia, with potential regional applications, via IACA, for many other small island communities in the Caribbean, including the BES-Islands. Once presented to the Statia Central Committee, the community, and all stakeholders, this report will provide a foundation on which a dynamic new plan of action for implementation can begin. (Statia GIS)