Through research, archeologists have found signs that suggests that the first people arrived in the Virgin Islands around 2500 to 3000 years ago. In the Virgin Islands, over 210 sites belonging to Amerindian cultures have been uncovered and identified. Some of the important village sites found and studied on St. Croix include Salt River, Estate Prosperity, Estate St. George and Fairplain. On St. Thomas they include sites in Tutu, Magens Bay, Hull Bay, Botany Bay and Charlotte Amalie Harbor area. On St. John there are sites in Cinnamon Bay, Reef Bay and Coral Bay. The people that lived in the Virgin Islands around the time of European and African arrival include the Island Carib and the Taino.
In this activity, students will use the questions from an Artifact Analysis worksheet to observe an artifact of an Amerindian stone ax. They will discuss how they think the stone ax was made and what it might have been used for.
Primary Sources in this Activity
Suggested Teaching Instructions
Before beginning this activity, help students to understand what a primary source is. Ask students if they know: What is an artifact? What is an Amerindian? Help students understand the two words as needed.
Artifacts are objects that are made, used, or modified by humans. They give us information about life in the past. Amerindian is used to refer to the first people of the Americas.
Ask students if they can name some of the first people that lived on the islands of the Caribbean? The teacher may want to share some of the information from the About section with students.
Load the photograph of the Amerindian Stone Ax found at Little Cruz Bay St. John onto an interactive smart board and have students make observations together. If there is not a smart board, students can work in small groups at computers.
Also load the Analyze Artifact worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through answering the questions on the worksheet.
Analyze the Primary Source
Using the questions from the Analyze an Artifact worksheet, lead students through artifact analysis and a discussion about the stone ax tool and the people that created it. Work through the four sections. Since the students cannot hold or feel the artifact the teacher may need to prompt some answers such as the possible weight since it is made of stone, and that the edge looks sharp so what might it have been used for.
You may load the Analyze an Artifact worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through answering the questions, print the worksheet and distribute to your students, or adapt the questions from the worksheet to create your own. Primary Source Analysis Worksheets
Meet the Artifact.
Observe its parts.
Try to make sense of it.
Use it as historical evidence.
What do students think about the ax? How do they think it was used? How do they think it was made? How is the stone ax similar and how is it different from tools used today for hammering and cutting? Explain.