BVI News

Steps being taken to insert more of VI history in schools

File photo of junior ESHS students at their Road Town campus.

The BVI’s Director of Culture Dr Katherine Smith has said her office is carrying out an audit of curriculum used at all levels of the local school system as the government aims to teach children more Virgin Islands history.

“We certainly need to include our heroes, especially from our plantation era. We certainly have to introduce concepts such as colonisation, genocide [and] enslavement. We have to include aspects of our social history. These aspects are completely missing in terms of the development of enslavement and colonisation upon our race, class, colour, family structure, religion — our whole social life,” Dr Smith explained on the Honestly Speaking radio show yesterday.

The approach is important

The historian also expressed concern about the way students learn history, adding that enslavement should be explained as a phase in Caribbean history and not the primary focus of it.

“In primary schools, we need to really understand that we were enslaved but we were not slaves. When you speak about this subject matter, the approach is important. There’s not a lot about resistance and you can never talk about this history without accompanying it with resistance. And we really should not introduce young people to their history in chains and this is something that is still apparent in the system,” Dr Smith explained.

She said it will not be difficult to develop the content for teaching because there is already a lot of information about the BVI’s history that is available locally.

As an example, she said historians have documents which show where in Africa the slave ships that landed in the BVI originated.

Local historians, cultural ambassadors and elected representatives have constantly called for mechanisms and initiatives that will help to develop a strong Virgin Islands identity among children and residents alike.

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  1. Styles. says:


    While educating children can you please be accurate.

    The plantation era and slavery is not indigenous history.

    This whole idea of indigenous BVI is a false one. All of us being here, borne or not, are a product of migration.

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    • @Styles says:

      You are absolutely correct. If you intend to teach about the indigenous people of these islands then be aware Director of Culture that those people and their decedents are no longer here. The people of the BVI are not indigenous and teaching that would be false. The people of the Territory just like the former slave owners are all guests to this land and actually have no historic claim whatsoever to theses islands. If you wish to trace and teach the indigenous background of the BVI people you will need to take the school children on a trip to Africa.

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    • Reply says:

      Thank you so much for pointing out this falsehood. I have railed against this misinformation and miseducation of our people for some time now, and it’s disappointed that people who should know better continue to spread this falsehood.

      The first time I noticed this falsehood was on another nameless news outlet’s website where that term is being used imo for divisive and malignant purposes.

      The schools in the BVI should teach our children their historical truth, and not some fallacy.

      Dr Katherine Smith needs to rethink or rephrase what is being reported here. Pushing this “indigenous” narrative to our kids is irresponsible.

      Like 11
  2. HRMPH says:

    But the black population of the BVI is not indigenous to the BVI.
    Indigenous means ‘naturally existing in a place or country rather than arriving from another place’.
    Possibly there were some indigenous Carib or Arawak Indians, but they were more likely to be indigenous to the Caribbean region rather than to the BVI.
    To claim that we are indigenous means that we are denying our African heritage, and the history of slavery. Not only is that not historically accurate, it is disrespectful.
    Not even the palm trees are indigenous, although the mosquitoes probably are indigenous.

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  3. Really now says:

    How we as BVIslanders get to be indigenous to Tortola. Sir our grandparents came here as children. Therefore, sir we are not there as indigenous people. When will you people stop being so ignorant to the truth.

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  4. Simply says:

    Teach us our origin and that would help settle our differences with our rest Caribbean brothers and sisters…f**k indigenous that beening isolating us from the sole purpose of our self totally opposite..but there will do everything to deceived us from that goal there dont like the fact we as one people the majority to unite for these it strength and majority rules ..and for us to unite we got to recognize we are one same people scattered around the world from one same place of ecnite back ground culture…teach us that…

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  5. interesting says:

    If you mean Caribbean history, there may be some benefit in that our younger generations will appreciate the indigenous peoples before us and start to treat “island people” with some oneness and respect.

    Then in the modern history, it will get interesting. With the arrival of financial services and expatriates from around the world to build up the BVI, some students may query why we do not have gleaming modern infrastructure and amenities, a huge reserve fund for post-Irma rebuilding, with all of the government wealth that was created in the past 60 years… In civics, they may then debate whether the recently renamed facilities ought to continue to be named after such “heroes”.

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    • @Interesting says:

      Take in consideration that 99.9% of the current children population in the BVI are “island people” children.

      Hence, is it being suggested that “Island people” children are discriminating against “Island people?

      This is mental confusion. This is what occurs when one is subliminally taught to accept certain narratives as facts and truths.

  6. Rubber Duck says:

    Hardly anyone is indigenous if you go back far enough. The people in the USA are not indigenous, they are 99.9% fairly recent migrants. Even in Europe tribes moved around constantly usually because they were attacked by other tribes. The UK was invaded in 1066 by Normans who were in fact the descendants of Vikings who had previously invaded Northern France , hence Nor (th) man

    So the question of who is indigenous is really irrelevant.

    The question is , do we have a society that is fair and just to all who wish to contribute.

  7. OurNews says:

    BVINews why are you so biassed? some are allowed to write whatever they want against BVI and BVIslanders, but when others try to write one comment, you quickly post “you are posting too often”. What is that? I suggest that this site is rather “OurNews” not “BVINews”.

  8. Simply says:

    White washing…wat it is u all frightened so to address the issue head on your African heritage and history of us from Africa to the so called modern world..could one people so hate there self so …lord have mercy on isreal..

    Slavery was and is evil …and it stil alive in our society under conoliization oppression education religion in the use of divide and rule to keep ignorance to the fact of love unity and humility. progress

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  9. Total ignorance says:

    We need to stop using the term indigenous in the way we are doing. We actually sound ignorant and uneducated. Black people are from Africa. None of us is indigenous to this country. The Indians were indigenous not nappy head black people who happen to be dropped in Anguilla and then sold and shipped to the various Caribbean countries where their slave masters had plantations. Those of us who were born here had no say in us being born here nor did our ancestors. They were shipped like cattle here. Stop embarrassing yourselves by calling yourselves indigenous.
    In our usual selfish way we use the word to make others who are born here but have foreign parentage feel as if they don’t belong. That is only reason why that word is used and it is despicable that we do this.
    Look up the word “indigenous” and understand the characteristics of a people who are indigenous to an area. Black nappy head people calling themselves indigenous to land that they were shipped to in slave ships from Africa? I feel embarrassed for those who do that. We sound ignorant and stupid. In our quest to make others feel that they don’t belong we make ourselves look like bubbling fools!

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    • @Total Ignorance says:

      While your point is accepted a fact, here another point that few to any knos as, it was deliberatelty and convenienly obliterated from history books by the conuerers:

      The were Black people lving in the west, and possible on these islads before the murderous columbus, conquitadors and Euroepans came along.

      Inded, Africans navigated the seas, set foot on and colonialized most of South and North Amrica and the Caribbean centuris before the pale man.

      Sdaly, that history was deliberately obliterated from moving into the future of records keeping.

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      • Columbus says:

        Fantasy. There is some evidence that Chinese ships visited the Caribbean before Columbus and Vikings crossed the sea to Newfoundland but Africa did not have the ship building skills to navigate the North Atlantic. And only a few European countries did.

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        • Joseph says:

          Read the book:

          “They Came Before Columbus” by Ivan Van Sertima for evidence that Africans sailed to and resided in the Americas (The Olmecs) prior to 1492.

  10. Reply says:

    Yes and put it in the constitution if you not indigenous you can’t run

    • YES says:

      I agree. No one should be allowed run unless they can show they are mostly Taino or Kalinago Indians.
      Everyone else is an outsider.

  11. Real Simple says:

    Just to point out that the Director did not use the word ‘indigenous’ for a reason. The more accurate terminology is ‘ancestral’.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If the teaching of our history to our children
    as beginning with enslavement and colonisation upon our race, class, colour, family structure, religion, then it can be postulated that that approach is the continuation of brainwashing and the continued advancement of mental slavery.

    Our history did not begin with slavery. Slavery ended our history. Our history did not begin and afte slavery, it was never regained.

    The most crucial part of our history that will have the greatest impact on young minds are them knowing they are the descendants of the people who created and developed the Arts, Sciences, technology, phiolosophy and medicine.

  13. Norris Turnbull says:

    I think all blogging knows what the good Dr is referencing but people are entitled to their considered opinions. Move on

    • No says:

      No, Mr Turnbull.
      Misusing this word is an issue for several reasons.
      a) it is a term widely used in political discourse around the world, and it has extreme importance in many political spheres. Using it wrongly, makes us look ignorant, which is not something we need.
      b) it is insulting to peoples across the world who have suffered genocide and are desperately trying to save their true identity, often having to fight to get back any autonomy or hold on to ancestral lands. Black Caribbean people suffered their slavery trauma; be respectful that indigenous peoples in the Americas, Oceania, Asia and Africa have all had HUGE cultural traumas inflicted on them, too, by the same peoples. We should learn more than just our own history -as much world history as we can so we know more about the global context of our lives then and now.
      c) it is wilful use of the wrong word, maybe because we BVIslanders hate to admit we are wrong, or maybe so we can distinguish ourselves from those whose ancestors did not come here as slaves – “island people”, “whites”, etc.. In each case, its childish to use the wrong word, and we BVIslanders hate to be looked down on as ignorant and childish.
      So stop, please!

  14. Rubber Duck says:

    It’s about time we stopped harping on the past, where everyone suffered injustice of one sort or another, and talked about the future.

  15. Our history says:

    History cannot be erased and to move into the future we cannot forget our passed. To carry bitterness into the future is the problem. One born in the BVI with ancestral back ground from other Caribbean Islands or other countries is previleged to go to their ancestral country and proudly claim rights there so why is everyone from other countries are telling BVIslanders whose immediate ancestors are from the BVI that it is a sin to be proud of their heritage. You all beating the indigenous horse, Dr. Smith did not mentioned the word indigenous. It seems like there are those who are desirous of BVIslanders to forget the period after slavery was abolished up to the 1960’s
    but that period is very important and should be cherished.

    • OH says:

      Your point is meaningless. Nobody coming down on BVIslanders for anything except using a word wrong.
      To object to this constant misuse of a word is not to hate on BVI people in any way. I am one!
      It is to get annoyed when you hear people using the word wrong.
      Imagine if, every time someone meant to say ‘the BVI’, they used the words ‘the Grenadines”. It would be wrong, no? Because we are not the Grenadines.
      That’s all.

    • Bull says:

      Your point is meaningless. Nobody coming down on BVIslanders for anything except using a word wrong.
      To object to this constant misuse of a word is not to hate on BVI people in any way. I am one!
      It is to get annoyed when you hear people using the word wrong.
      Imagine if, every time someone meant to say ‘the BVI’, they used the words ‘the Grenadines”. It would be wrong, no? Because we are not the Grenadines.
      That’s all.

  16. Stop hating says:

    There is English History, Caribbean History, every country have its own unique history. BVI history is not only about indigenous. Stop hating anything, everthing about BVI.

  17. @ @ Total Ignorance says:

    Thanks for reiterating historical facts that I was abused and ridiculed for trying to point out some time ago. The exploits of African and other peoples are being totally shut out of history. The fact remains that the Europeans were preceded by a long list of adventurers who traveled the world for millennia before our modern era.

  18. @ Columbus says:

    Total rubbish Africans were traveling to the West before Europe existed. Stop with the lying brainwash evil mental slavery tactics we know the truth.

  19. UNDER ATTACK says:

    A lot of this drama is being fueled by envy and greed.

  20. @Under Attack says:

    Regardless to how they sugar coat it.It is plain to read that BV Islanders are under attack. One cannot even say that he or she is a BV Islander without people taking offence. However every other nationality can say their’s. Everybody have to be born some place. Why hate me because Of where I was born. I donot envy nor hate you because you were born in your beautiful fruitful and prosperous country.

  21. Bobby says:

    The only true “belongers” are the Arawaks who lived in the BVI.

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