Here, St.John

Stories Of People And Place

Here, St.John is an oral history about Virgin Islands National Park and St. John made possible by a grant from the National Endowment For The Humanities.  It serves to give voice to the heritage, culture and natural history as told by born St. Johnians and resident scientists.  These stories recall historical details of the people and the natural life of the island that shape this place. 

On St. John much of the cultural heritage practices, traditions, and arts are deeply connected with the natural resources including the use of local plants and animals and the physical spaces now defined by the park.  The authentic preservation of this cultural heritage is deeply challenged by the existence of the park despite the mission of the National Park Service to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.  By better understanding what the impacts on culture are when the relationship with nature and native land is changed, we may begin to better preserve cultural heritage on St. John and forge a healthier partnership between the Virgin Islands National Park and the local community. 

St. John is a place that is much beloved by thousands of people from around the world.  However it is not common to hear about the place from the perspective of the people who are from here.  In creating Here, St.John we hope to take a small step towards changing that! 

List of Voices & Subjects

  • Welcome to St.John -- Kurt Marsh, Jr.
  • Manners -- Eulita Jacobs, Rosa Samuel, Faye Fredricks
  • St. John Taxis -- Paul Thomas talks about the history of the taxis.
  • Growing up in Cruz Bay. Childhood stories from the 1930’s through the 1990's -- Eulita Jacobs, Faye Fredricks, Dr. Hadiya Sewer, Paul Thomas 
  • Working at the Park in the Early Days -- Anecdotes from Paul Thomas about working for Virgin Islands National Park.
  • St. John Ferries -- Dr. Hadiya Sewer recalls life as a part of one of the families that run the ferries.
  • Growing up at Sieben -- Elroy Sprauve tells about his childhood at Estate Sieben, his father Julius Sprauve, and life on St. John in the days before the park.
  • Queen Brefu and the Slave Revolution -- Kurt Marsh Jr. gives the history of the slave revolution on St. John and its repercussions across the Caribbean.
  • Bush Medicine -- Eulita Jacobs talks about the main medicinal plants of St. John, and recalls life as a local herbalist over the past many decades.
  • Becoming A St John Naturalist -- Eleanor Gibney
  • History of Caneel Bay -- Eleanor Gibney provides a history of Caneel Bay, its use and ownership since the early 20th century until now.
  • Bru Nansi and Tiger -- Faye Fredricks tells the story of Bru Nansi, the trickster spider, going to the beach at Trunk Bay with his friend, Tiger.
  • Outro Montage -- Faye Fredricks, Jalayne Jones, Rafe Boulon, Dr. Caroline Rogers, Eulita Jacobs
  • Growing up on Bordeaux -- David Knight Jr. describes his childhood growing up on Bordeaux Mountain.
  • Growing up on Trunk Bay -- Rafe Boulon talks about his family’s history at Trunk Bay and his childhood growing up there.
  • Maho Bay Sea Turtles -- Adren Anderson and Willow Melamet talk about the special sea turtle population at Maho Bay and the problems they are facing.
  • Coral Reefs 101 -- Jeff Miller provides an introduction to understanding coral reefs.
  • Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease -- Jeff Miller describes the disease that’s devastating the coral population on St. John and what we can do about it.
  • Being a Coral Reef Scientist on St. John -- Dr. Caroline Rogers talks about studying corals on St John.
  • Hurricane Hole Before and After Hurricane Irma -- Dr. Caroline Rogers tells about the special coral reef life in the mangroves in Hurricane Hole and what has happened there since the 2017 hurricanes.
  • Creating an Anchorless Park -- Paul Thomas talks about the social ramifications of creating an anchorless park.
  • Creating an Anchorless Park -- Rafe Boulon talks about the environmental impact of creating an anchorless park
  • The Trees of St. John -- Eleanor Gibney

A Selection of the Stories in Here, St. John


Produced by Outer Voices

“There is so much more opportunity for a much more real conversation about the spaces that the park occupies." ~Kurt Marsh Jr.