indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Mary Pember: Digging the dirt for Native ancestors and artifacts

Filed Under: Environment | Law
More on: mary annette pember, nagpra
     


The Indiana home where the remains and artifacts were found. Photo by Mary Annette Pember

Mary Annette Pember reports on the looting of Native grave sites across the country:
Although viewed by many as a benign hobby, digging for Native artifacts is a burgeoning business online and at artifact shows, where ancient pottery fetches thousands of dollars and even arrowheads can bring hundreds, depending on condition and type.

According to archaeologists, the most sought after artifacts are found in burials. “An unbroken, decorated pottery item has nearly always been taken from a burial site,” says Christopher Moore, professor of Anthropology at the University of Indianapolis. “Typically we see a big increase in people digging for artifacts during economic downturns.”

Looters seeking the high-end artifacts found in burial sites will often use a tile probe—a long probe with a handle attached—to poke into the ground until they hit something hard. Pottery found in this manner typically has a small cylindrical hole where the probe first made contact.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, NAGPRA was passed in 1990 to help protect such artifacts. Although NAGPRA includes provisions for remains and cultural items found on tribal and federal land, laws governing such activity on private land is complex and varies from state to state. “Dealers and sellers usually sidestep questions about the origins of such objects, saying that they came from old collections, pre-dating federal law protecting the items, or were found in an eroding riverbank,” says Moore.

Native people are working to increase awareness about the disrespect and damage such digging and trafficking in artifacts does to contemporary tribal cultures. “When you remove the bones of my loved ones from the earth where they were interred, you remove them from the proximity of family,” says Ben Barnes, second chief of the Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma.

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: People of the Dirt, Part Two: The Obsessive and Destructive Artifact Thieves (Indian Country Today 5/12)

Related Stories:
Mary Pember: FBI finds ancestors and artifacts in Indiana home (5/8)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: There's a smell of treason in the air in nation's capital (3/27)
Mark Trahant: The fight ahead for the future of Indian health care (3/27)
Tribes mount another fight after Trump approves another pipeline (3/24)
Native Sun News Today: Navajo elders continue long fight on land (3/24)
Editorial: Just another day of trying to keep up with the Trumps (3/24)
Elizabeth LaPensée: Video games encourage indigenous culture (3/24)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women work with youth offenders (3/24)
Tiffany Midge: Trump continues to conjure hero Andrew Jackson (3/24)
John Kane: Seneca Nation money train coming to end in New York (3/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes secure approval of school mascot agreement (3/24)
Editorial: Federal recognition for tribes in Virginia is long overdue (3/24)
Seneca Nation ends casino payments after sending $1.4B to state (3/24)
Appeals court hears slew of Indian cases amid focus on nominee (3/23)
Internal tribal disputes continue to trip up federal court system (3/23)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care gains ignored in political debate (3/23)
Native Sun News Today: Young fighters maintain Lakota tradition (3/23)
Ivan Star Comes Out: America loses its self-respect and humanity (3/23)
Rosalyn LaPier: Why water remains sacred to indigenous peoples (3/23)
Winona LaDuke: North Dakota spreads filth about water protectors (3/23)
Harold Monteau: Tribal governments are abusing their own people (3/23)
Alex Jacobs: Donald Trump in middle of the 'deep state civil war' (3/23)
Secretary Zinke announces 'doggy days' for Interior Department (3/23)
Keystone XL Pipeline route crosses Ponca Tribe's forced removal (3/23)
Indian lawmaker resigns after being charged for child prostitution (3/23)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation buys site of long-delayed casino project (3/23)
High court pick acknowledges poor treatment of 'sovereign' tribes (3/22)
Dakota Access submits another status update entirely under seal (3/22)
Court allows claim for alleged underpayment in Cobell settlement (3/22)
South Dakota tribes continue to extend Class III gaming compacts (3/22)
Cowlitz Tribe secures approval to offer liquor as casino debut nears (3/22)
Native Sun News Today: Community project continues at Pine Ridge (3/22)
Cronkite News: Copper mine on sacred site complains about delays (3/22)
Mary Annette Pember: Awareness for missing and murdered sisters (3/22)
Stacy Pratt: Visiting the gravesite of Andrew Jackson in Tennessee (3/22)
Murder charge filed for fatal shooting of Navajo Nation police officer (3/22)
Muckleshoot Tribe still seeking answers for fatal shooting by officer (3/22)
Hopland Band submits claim for county raid of marijuana operation (3/22)
Chukchansi Tribe sued for $21M by gaming development company (3/22)
Seminole Tribe accused of breaking contract with outlet at casino (3/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.