Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Magens Bay has a story to tell
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 Material Information
Title: Magens Bay has a story to tell
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: August 1, 1997
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00170
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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Mag The Daily Nehas, Frday, August 1,to tell

Magens Bay has a story to tell

Last week, I spoke to a large group of
summer students at Magens Bay Arboretm.
Sea Adlah "FoiKie Douastg and his taff
should be highly commended for their
efforts in trying to restore Magens Bay
Arboretum and the pgeneral area of the beach
The people of the Virgin Islands hove a
lot to gain from the restoration project of
Mageas Bay natural environment. Mgens
Bay beach is known worldwide as one of the
10 begabelches-anywhere.
But there Is more to Maens Bay than
just swimming, walking on the sand or
watching a beautiful sunset. Maops Bay is
a special place because of its human and
natural history. This history began from the
time of the Indians, who inhabited the area
sometime around 700 to 1200.
In 1976, two African males i their lae
30s were found buried in he soil near Hull
Bay beach. The remains dated to 1250.
Around one of the Africans' wrist was a
ceramic vessel of pre-Columbian Indian
design. These first inhabitants of Magens
Bay were very skilled people in the way
they survived in the environment and bow
they lived off the land and sea.
The Indians in St Thomas probably also
survived by trading with other people travel-
ing the Caribbean seas like Africans, who
knew the Caribbean region before the first
European ever set sail in this part of the
world. The two Aftican found at Hall Bay
are among many examples of the early
African presence in the Caribbean.
Indians made different types of pottery
using whatever was available. They were
creative in painting different designs on the
pottery or decorating their work with faces

of animals and plant deigns. The type of
pottery found at Masen Bay sie belong to
the Bleraid neties.
The pottery It by the Indians also pro-
vide records of certain foods, flora, fauna
and mineral resources available in the
Mageos Bay environment at that time. We
all know historically what happened to the
Indians of these islands. They wer explot-
ed and replaced by European powers.
The impact by these newcomers was
tremendous on the land environment. They
were not a people that lived or worked with-
in the environment; economics was the driv-
in force behind developing the area. '
Archeological records also provide infor-
mation on the impact of these newcomers'
activities on the lad.
The Maens Bay Arboretum was once a
small mangrove lagoon that provided a natu-
ral habitat for Chlone cancellata, a species
of shall These species dat back to 425 BC
and 1150 BC. Today, the arboretum no
longer supports the shell species.
The arboretum now is a seasonal wetland
with rich topsoil that washes down from the
surrounding slopes, During the rainy season
on St. Thomas, water rushes down from
morotain guts id and d floods the flat area
where, the arboretum is located. Because
theme is no outlet within the arboretum, the

area stays wet with standing water for sever-
al weeks or months depending on rinfall.
The area is now home to large ladcrabs.
Archaeological records show hat soil erao-
sion and ecological changes occurred from
the prehistoric period to now. Stone axes,
shell adzes and other artifacts recovered
from the area attest to the fact that land-
clearing took place for village settlement
and probably the harvesting of large trees
for the construction of homes and canoes.
The land was cleared especially for cas-
sava which was part of the Indians stable
diet. Cassva was brought with the Ilndms
when they emigrated through the Lesser
Antilles from South America. Cotton was
also cultivated by the Indians and used as a
product to make different items like clothes.
However by the 17th and 18th coeantis,
soil erosion accelerated at Mageos Bay,
especially the fertile upper slopes for sugar
production and other agricultural crops.
Thus, the eroion puterms and the remov-
ing of large trees have changed the water-
shed in Magens Bay and in tIrn altered
By the 19th century, erosion intensified
by the shifting of agricultural mops to large.
ly grazing of animals and culminated in the
20th century by house development of the
upper slopes of the area. Today, what you
see of Mageos Bay upland is a secondary
forest establish through natural succession.
Next week's article will be a continua-
tion of the cultural and natural history of
Magens Bay enviroment.
Olte D is, ho has a master of sci-
ence degree in range management and
oresry ecology, is a St. Croi= ecologist=
asctiit and writer.

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