History of Pirates in the Virgin Islands

Presentation author(s)

Laura Quintero ’22, Bourbonnais, Illinois

Major: Anthropology


The history of the United States Virgin Islands is rich with both social and archaeological evidence. Its shores were home to ancient societies such as the Tiano people, who left visible marks in the archaeological record of the Caribbean. Later the islands became the home of various sugar cane plantations, aiding the islands’ reputation for the production of rum. The time frame in between these histories, however, is often overlooked. What happened between the genocide of the Tiano people and the enslavement of Africans on the shores of the Virgin Islands? Pirates. Home to various pirate fleets and littered with hideouts and bases, the Virgin Islands was the center of pirate activity within the Caribbean for centuries, so much so that it is said that at one point all the inhabitants of the islands were pirates. This rich historic record is readily available, while the archaeological material more often remains overlooked. The over-sensationalized topic of pirates (especially within the Caribbean) has led many archaeologists to avoid research into the lives of pirates. Yet, these material remains offer additional depth and understanding to the history of the Virgin Islands and better contextualize the complex lives of pirates in the Caribbean.


Shannon Fie

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