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Joined: Nov 2002
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U.S. Embassy finances Stann Creek archaeology projects

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Toledo is most often referred to as the forgotten district but in archaeological terms, Stann Creek comes closest to that description. However, a new preservation project by the Institute of Archaeology should change that. The Serpon Sugar Mill site, located along the banks of the Sittee River, was officially declared a reserve several years ago but was never developed as an attraction. With the financial assistance of the United States Government's Ambassador's Fund, G.O.B. now plans to turn Serpon into the country's first archaeological and historical park. According to Director of Archaeology, Jaime Awe, in the late 1800s, Serpon was settled by defeated U.S. confederates who were trying to hold on to their traditional way of life after the Civil War. The veterans went into sugar production using a U.S. manufactured locomotive and a British mill. But when the price of sugar bottomed out and tropical diseases took hold in the community, the endeavour was abandoned. This morning Awe told us how the U.S. contribution of one hundred and ten thousand dollars will be used on the ground.

Jaime Awe, Director of Archaeology

"We will go in there and we will completely underbrush and convert it into a park. Just like if you go to Xunantunich and you walk up towards the site, you see how we maintain those, well Serpon will become that kind of park. Very few people in Belize know that the sugar industry actually began in the south of the country and the orange industry began in the north, hence Orange Walk. And then look at today, a complete changeover where the north is obviously now sugar city, et cetera and the south is orange. The second thing about Serpon is that it is the first place where we have evidence of industrial investments in Belize so from an industrial history perspective it is one of a kind. Additionally too, Serpon is located really close to Sittee River and to Hopkins and so one of the things that we really want to emphasise here is community participation and community development. I think it's gonna be a wonderful park and everybody should plan to go and visit it within a year."

This is the third grant issued to the Institute of Archaeology through the U.S. Ambassador's Fund. 2005's grant was used to develop the Cerro Maya site in the Corozal district while in 2006, the monies help preserve the country's oldest Catholic churches located at Lamanai in the Orange Walk district.

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Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 492
That is very interesting! I knew that former Confederates had settled in Belize but did not know about the mill.

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
The country's oldest catholic church at Lamani is 'Indian Church',also has a Sugar mill in jungle near by, Herman Smith did a lot of work at Indian Church. It has a fascinating history and story.
Good for you US Ambassador and Institute of Archeology.

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