Stop the Excavations at St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground

Stop the Excavations at St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground

July 2, 2021
Petition to
State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ms. Alexandra van Huffelen Dutch Government and
Signatures: 1,806Next Goal: 2,500
Support now

Why this petition matters

A Sacred Place for Our Ancestors

At this moment, a team of archaeologist from the Netherlands, the UK and the USA, led by the SECAR Foundation on St. Eustatius, are busy excavating the remains of our ancestors, enslaved and free Africans of a 18th century burial ground in St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean.

The excavations are carried out in a disrespectful manner and there is no involvement and input from archaeologists and scientists from the African diaspora. The reasons why the archaeological research is being conducted are highly questionable and easily refuted. We suspect that the government is trying to encourage heritage tourism on the island.

There is a lack of transparency from both the local government and the research team. We as descendant community have no idea what will happen to the remains of our ancestors. At a recently held town meeting, we were only allowed to ask questions, not to voice our opinion. Let alone that we are structurally involved in the excavations.

St. Eustatius is a small island with 3,500 inhabitants. It is a public entity governed by the Dutch government. In the 18th century, St. Eustatius was the largest transit port of the transatlantic slave trade in the Western Hemisphere.

The transatlantic slave trade has been recognized by the United Nations as a crime against humanity. This 18th century burial ground of free and enslaved Africans therefore warrants special attention and treatment.

We want:

  1. immediate cessation of our ancestors' excavations on this sacred ground;
  2. the submission of a written plan on the proposed excavation and commemoration of our ancestors that includes input from the community and scholars from the African diaspora;
  3. the adoption of a scientific research protocol, including a definitive timeline for completion;
  4. adoption of a commemorative proposal that is distinctive and rooted in African diasporic history and culture. This commemorative proposal should include plans for:
    • the respectful treatment of these ancestral remains;
    • the reburial at the original site of rediscovery;
    • appropriate African-oriented ceremonies as selected by the descendant community;
    • the placement of a permanent memorial at the site of the sacred ground (near the airport).

If we truly want to reconcile the horrific history of slavery and injustice done to our people, we must respect and honor the memory of those who lived and died under decades of oppression by honoring them, thanking them for their sacrifices, and telling their stories so they will not be forgotten.

They fought for our freedom; we will fight for their dignity and defend it.

See for an overview of our activities and media coverage so far.

Petition organizers:

Kenneth Cuvalay, Chair Ubuntu Connected Front Caribbean. 

Xiomara Balentina, President Brighter Path Foundation St. Eustatius

George Berkel, Vice President grassroots movement SEAD (St. Eustatius Awareness and Development Movement)

Teresa Leslie, Director of Public Health Research EcoRAY


This petition is endorsed by the following organizations who campaign for human rights, reparations, decolonization, and the right to determine our narrative as Afrikans:


Kenneth Cuvalay, email cuvalay.kandidaat3/at/ or our general email address steustatiusafricanburialground//at/ (please make sure to replace /at/ with @).

(Credits photo: Rob Godfried)

Support now
Signatures: 1,806Next Goal: 2,500
Support now