Petition for Automatic Danish Citizenship for Native Virgin Islanders
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For 246 years, Virgin Islanders contributed to the growth of the Danish economy and to Danish culture. But despite the islanders’ unique investment in Denmark, first as enslaved people (1671-1848), then as colonial subjects (1848-1917), Virgin Islanders were never—as evidenced by the plain language of the Cession of the Danish West Indies, the treaty transferring the islands from Denmark to the United States of America, dated August 4, 1916, with the exchange of ratifications taking place on January 17, 1917—afforded the honor of Danish citizenship.
Despite the passage of a century since that fateful day of March 31, 1917, many Virgin Islanders still feel part-Danish—on account of the Danish blood that flows in their veins; the Danish surnames carried in their mouths; the Danish architecture which punctuates the islands’ landscape; the Danish-inspired food which comprises a portion of the islands’ cuisine; the Danish names of the islands’ historic towns and the streets therein; and, amongst other things, the presence of Dannebrog atop many a flagstaff. As such, there is an ever-present Danish-American duality in the islands: People feel at once American and Danish, sometimes in equal measure.
But despite our official and unofficial bonds that have now endured for 346 years, Danish citizenship remains elusive, much to the unspoken regret and frustration of many islanders. The written, recorded history of the Virgin Islands begins, principally, with Danish colonialism in the late 17th century. And Virgin Islands schoolchildren are likely to be more well-read in the history of the Danish West Indies than in American History. The name Peter von Scholten is as emblazoned on the memories of Virgin Islanders as is the name of George Washington.
Both the United States and Denmark allow for dual citizenship. Virgin Islands natives received American citizenship in 1927, and it is the firm belief of the undersigned that Danish citizenship should be automatically granted to any Virgin Islander living in the islands who can trace, with documentation, his ancestry to the Danish era (1671-1917).
Qualifications for Signatories
The undersigned must be:
•At least 18 years of age and an official resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands
[Native Virgin Islanders residing outside the Virgin Islands may re-establish Virgin Islands residency in order to qualify for dual citizenship]
[Native Virgin Islanders who, except for the age requirement, meet the qualifications may request automatic Danish citizenship through an adult relative or guardian] ;
•Able to provide, upon request, documented proof of personal and/or ancestral presence in the Virgin Islands during the Danish era (i.e., birth record, baptismal record, marriage records, death record, etc.).
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