Indian Burial and Sacred Grounds Watch



Federal laws

State laws

Some preserved sites.

Some history and culture

Controversies Concerning Archaeology

American Indian Voices

News Archives Index

Return to main Learn page

Please inform the webmaster of any broken links!

News Items

The Baer Case: Hand Slap, Face Slap

By MATEO ROMERO | The New Mexican 03/02/2003

District Judge John Conway has passed sentence on Santa Fe art dealer Joshua Baer for six charges of violating the Migratory Bird Act (selling prohibited eagle feathers) and three Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act violations (selling objects of cultural and religious patrimony).

As Judge Conway stated when the case broke months ago, he did not think that Baer would do any jail time because the judge was not fond of NAGPRA laws. Judge Conway has proved true to his biased words by sentencing Baer to a mere 100 hours of community service and $675 court fees.

Acoma and San Felipe Pueblo tribal members stated that justice had not been served and that they felt slapped in the face.

Among the items sold to an undercover federal agent were:

American Indian headdress with eagle feathers.

A Santo Domingo corn goddess.

A Plains war bonnet valued at $145,000.

An American Indian shield.

To quote Judge Conway on the incident, Joshua Baer was "despicable."

Judge Conway is absolutely right.

Anyone who knowingly traffics in illegal eagle feathers and sacred objects dug up from the ground for profit is a person without moral or ethical conscience.

And Judge Conway acted despicably in allowing such illegal doings to go answered with only the slightest slap on the wrist.

Perhaps Judge Conway and Joshua Baer would feel differently if the Migratory Bird and NAGPRA Acts were laws protecting the bodies and sacred items associated with non-native culture and religion.

Imagine, for a moment, the outrage, tears and moral inflammation that would occur in the mainstream if the tables were turned. Imagine native people digging up, pilfering and unlawfully acquiring the artifacts of clothing that Spanish conquistadors and priests were buried in, stealing and selling the sacred objects from the altars of Catholic churches in Northern New Mexico for outrageous sums of money.

The full weight of the law would come crashing down on the culprits.

It is a story as old as the Southwest itself. It has historic precedents in the violence of Spanish-settler colonialism in the Pueblo villages - a one-sided view of laws, history and justice, written by a cultural and economic elite, to favor that elite at the expense of the local Pueblo communities once again.

In his superbly lenient ruling against Baer, Judge Conway has done the equivalent of using the RICO anti-racketeering laws to rule in favor of gangsters and organized crime.

The time to stop ripping off the cultural property is far overdue: Put native bodies back in the ground; stop digging up more bodies; and stop trafficking in illegal-religious artifacts.

Artist Mateo Romero is an enrolled member of Cochití Pueblo.

Vandals strike archaeological site in canyons of the Ancients

The Daily Times

DOLORES, Colo. Vandals have struck again at an archaeological site in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Last month, three signs were discovered damaged at the Painted Hand site, where volunteers had worked to upgrade parking and install signs to help manage visitor impacts. The signs were installed in 2001 as part of a National Public Lands Day event. Some 20 San Juan Mountains Association volunteers worked on the project, said Ann Bond, public affairs specialist with the San Juan Public Lands Center in a news release Tuesday.

"This destruction is an insult to all the local people who work so hard to preserve and protect these resources," said Ruth Lambert, San Juan Mountains Association Cultural Program director.

"I am dismayed when I think of all the energy wasted by some people on destruction and negativity," said Esther Greenfield of Durango, Colo., who worked on the Painted Hand site and also serves as an San Juan Mountains Association cultural site steward.

"When I see this kind of vandalism, I wonder why the people doing it don't have more pride and respect for the rich cultural heritage of our home area," said Nan Carman of Pleasantview, another San Juan Mountains Association volunteer and cultural site steward who also worked at the Painted Hand site.

Two trail signs reading, "Fragile Area, Please Stay On Trail," and a parking area sign were damaged. One of the trail signs was found and reinstalled; the other signs were not repairable and will have to be replaced. The vandalism occurred sometime in January or February.

Painted Hand is a unique Ancestral Puebloan site that features a standing tower perched on a boulder.It gets its name from hands that were painted on a boulder by its ancient inhabitants. It is one of 45 cultural sites in the National Monument monitored by the Southwest Colorado Cultural Site Stewardship Program coordinated by SJMA. Over the past two years, 85 volunteers have been trained as archaeological site stewards to monitor prehistoric and historic sites on public lands in southwestern Colorado. The stewards help watch for damage caused by vandals or by overzealous visitors.

"We hope that, as people become aware of the site stewards program, it will be a deterrent," said LouAnn Jacobson, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument manager. "The site stewards help inform us of problems so that we can document and repair damage quickly and prevent further site deterioration."

BLM Law enforcement is investigating the incident. The perpetrators face federal charges of vandalism to government property, which can carry up to a one-year prison sentence and $100,000 fine.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Anasazi Heritage Center, (970) 882-4811.

Peru Wants Relic Back From Yale

Posted to NDN AIM by Erthavengr

By Associated Press

March 5, 2003, 9:15 PM EST

LIMA, Peru -- Nearly a century after a Yale professor became the first foreigner to reach the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru is asking the university to give back artifacts he took with him.

Hundreds of the ceramics and human bones dug up by expeditions led by Hiram Bingham between 1911 and 1915 went on display at the university's Peabody Museum in late January.

"The government appreciates the exhibit as a way of projecting Peruvian culture and we are seeking an accord that will permit the return of these cultural assets to Peru," Deputy Foreign Minister Manuel Rodriguez said Wednesday.

The Peabody Museum's web site says the artifacts became part of its collection "by agreement with the Peruvian government."

The government permitted Bingham to take the relics with him, "but the temporary character of the loan was never discussed," Rodriguez said.

He said Peru has been discussing the issue with the school and described initial talks as "very positive and constructive."

Yale officials didn't immediately return telephone messages left after business hours Wednesday.

The Incas ruled Peru from the 1430s until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1532, constructing incredible stone-block cities and roads and developing a highly organized society that extended from modern-day Colombia to Chile.

The Incas abandoned Machu Picchu around 1545, as Spanish soldiers began to conquer their empire. Residents fled to the Inca capital of Cusco or to the surrounding jungles to survive.

Bingham led three trips that uncovered the majority of the artifacts discovered at Machu Picchu. The objects, found in burial chambers, shed light on the sophisticated and diverse life the Incas enjoyed before the Spanish conquest.

The partially reconstructed ruins, 310 miles southeast of Lima, are South America's top archaeological site, drawing 300,000 foreign visitors each year.

The Machu Picchu exhibit runs through May 4 at the Peabody Museum and then travels to Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston and Chicago over the next two years. Rodriguez said the Peruvian government does not plan to try to stop the exhibition.

Officials say artifact theft along Missouri River a troubling problem

Posted to NDN AIM by Erthavengr
March 9,2003

PIERRE (AP) - An Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist has a message for people thinking about collecting artifacts along the Missouri River.

"I won't make any bones about it," Richard Harnois said. "Removing artifacts from federal land is stealing. You are a thief."

A 1979 federal law bars the unauthorized excavation and removal of archaeological resources on public or American Indian lands.

Still, artifact collection is "deeply ingrained" in some residents, Harnois said.

He said the building of the Missouri River dams created a rich archaeological region, complete with earth-lodge villages, prehistoric camp sites, military forts and burial sites.

"We have learned a lot about the culture in this area because of dam activity," Harnois said.

The dams also destroyed some archaeological and historic sites, he said. Now, low water levels caused by the drought have exposed former towns, such as LeBeau in Walworth County and Fort Sully in Sully County. Harnois says those areas had to be secured to prevent looting.

"Every time somebody goes out and takes one more thing away, we have one less piece of history," he said.

During cattle drives in years after the Civil War, LeBeau was a major cattle-shipping point, Harnois said. "It was a bona fide ghost town before the lake was flooded."

Erosion and fluctuating

water levels also create problems. "It exposes a lot of things that are fairly safe under the water," Harnois said.

Sometimes, the corps is forced to salvage items from an area that is being heavily looted, he said.

When human remains are uncovered, the corps must determine whether the remains are those of American Indians. If so, tribes are contacted so the remains can be reburied properly.

"They have spiritual advisers that we meet with at the site for recovery," Harnois said.

The corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state Game, Fish & Parks Department are cracking down on artifact theft.

Three people from Pierre pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in February to unlawfully removing archaeological resources. Cases involving others are pending, Harnois said.

Dropping lake levels expose historic ruins

Posted to NDN AIM by Erthavengr

By MICHELLE BEAVER Associated Press Writer 03/10/2003

ROOSEVELT -- The Salado Indians disappeared centuries ago, but the remnants of their civilization linger in central Arizona canyons.

Their villages and pots, trumpets and jewelry dot the Tonto Basin. Shelters big enough for 300 commoners and platform houses built for the elite are still there as well.

But most of the time, only the fish in Roosevelt Lake see these treasures, since the area was flooded in 1903 to create a 29-mile-long reservoir held back by the Roosevelt Dam.

Until the drought came.

During the past two years, the dry spell has lowered the lake levels to the point that many of the ruins have reappeared to varying degrees, allowing archaeologists to view them and learn. They got some of their best views beginning in September.

Tonto National Forest archaeologist Scott Wood said he discovers amazing things when drought hits.

"We found a few villages that have only been seen once since the lake was filled," Wood said. "It gave us some information we weren't expecting."

Archeologists have logged more than 8,000 sites in the Tonto Basin, but Wood said that is only about 40 percent of what is actually there "We've learned a lot from those sites, but it's the other 60 percent that's really critical."

The stone structures, decorations and weapons that archeologists have logged tell a lot about the Salado: how they lived, how many were in the basin and when they disappeared.

Warfare is a common theory for the Salado's disappearance. Climate change, disease and starvation are also suspected factors.

Clues to the disappearance of the Salado, who lived in the Tonto Basin between 1100 and 1450 A.D., are what archeologists want the most, but they only emerge when the lake drops.

And even in dry times they can only get inconsistent views of the ruins.

Steve Germick, a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist, said the topography of the basin is a system of step terraces.

"There are sites on all those different terraces, and they're all of varying heights," Germick said. "The lake could go down 5 feet and expose some sites, and then at the end of the summer hundreds more might be seen."

Many have gone under again during the past couple of weeks as the lake has again begun filling up.

"When people talk about the drought, they're sad but I'm happy," Wood said. "I want that lake to suck right down to nothing for about a year so we can see what's there."

Archeologists say the Salado, a group of Hohokam, brought about major social and political changes in Hohokam history.

The Salado buried their dead below ground instead of cremating them. They built stone houses, whereas the Hohokam before them dug homes into the ground and then made domes above out of sticks and mud.

The Salado had major trading routes throughout the West and into Mexico and had incredible canal systems that supported a lucrative farming industry.

What more could unearthed ruins tell archeologists?

Wood said he would love to find out.

"Those ruins could tell us how the Hohokam got to central Arizona and how fast they developed there," he said. "We could find out how they got along with the people who were already there and why the whole system collapsed."

Wood said the Salado economy and political alliances fell apart when a catastrophic flood wiped away an agricultural surplus in 1383.

Researchers want to know more about that collapse.

In the 1980s, another period when the lake's level fell, an Arizona State University archaeology team spent eight years researching the Tonto Basin. It was one of the biggest research projects in America, said Charles Redman, a team leader.

"To mount an excavation takes a lot of money and tools and specialists," Redman said.

His 75-member group was funded by a $10 million federal grant.

No excavations nearly that large have been mounted in the last two years, though, despite the low lake levels.

Eight U.S. Forest Service archeologists organize small search teams when the lake gets below 17 percent of its capacity, and sometimes they visit the lake on their own.

"We're plugging along and doing it cheap," Wood said. "It's not the ideal way to do this kind of research, but we're not costing anybody much. The lake goes down and we go up and check it out."

Tonto National Monument ranger Eddie Colyott said the Salado ruins can teach Westerners about their historic heritage.

"When people filled that lake 100 years ago there was no concept of how important the ruins were," Colyott said.

Reading the rocks

Posted to NDN AIM by Erthavengr

By Elva K. Osterreich Staff Writer,1413,160~9602~1232544,00.html

Joe Ben Sanders has spent 27 years looking at the Wind Mountain petroglyphs at Three Rivers, N.M. He has made controversial connections with the Hopi tribes of New Mexico and Arizona and the ancient site of Casas Grandes in Mexico.

Sanders believes that the ancient Mogollon and the Hopi share the same story, that they are indeed the same people. He believes that the ancestors of the Hopi gradually migrated through southern New Mexico on the way to sacred Hopi lands.

"We have three archeologies not three cultures," Sanders said of the currently held archeological belief that three different groups of peoples roamed early New Mexico.

The Jornada Mogollon Hopi, as Sanders calls them all, spread up through southern New Mexico and the Tularosa Basin from Mexico. The three-rivers site contains the evidence and history to support this migration.

According to Hopi oral traditions, the Bear, Coyote, Parrot and Kachina clans migrated south together after the Emergence, Sanders said. The symbols of all the clans can be found at Three Rivers.

There are two Hopi stories, Sanders said, about the destruction of Palatkwapi, or the mysterious red city of the south, which Sanders believes is Casas Grandes.

"I know it has to be Casas Grandes," Sanders said.

One story says that Spider clan destroyed Casas Grandes, the other cays it was destroyed by the wrath of the Snake.

In either case the story goes, two children, twins, escaped the destruction together. One of the children was a boy, Tawahongva, and the other a girl, Tawiayisnima. Together they traveled north looking for their parents.

The children found a ceremonial deer, Moki, who offered up his life to save the children. The deer told the boy to kill him but not to break its bones but rather to make an awl out of its leg bone and wear it around his neck, which he did. An awl, in Hopi, is "mochi," leading to the name, "Mochi," for the Hopi people, Sanders believes.

At Three Rivers petroglyph bird track line up the stories told by the rocks, Sanders said.

Sanders knows each rock on the mountain like the back of his hand. Keeping up to him is trouble and not getting twisted around by the stories is a challenge, but its worth it to make the trek in Sanders' world.

"this site can prove everything," Sanders said.

The girl and boy twins can be found in many rocks on the mountain. The Moki deer is there to symbolize its clan and the children. It usually appears without a leg, signifying it is indeed the same deer the twins killed.

Petroglyphs of the pueblo (Casas Grandes), with ladders and a spiritual blanket the people were supposed to weave over the land lead to images of destruction, on one side the destruction is caused by snakes and on the other by spiders. Some of the final images include the spiritual blanket frayed and falling apart with the cohesive symbols on it gone.

The petroglyph writers not only left their images in the stone, they also used the stone's natural and unnatural features to enhance the writing.

They would work around a knob on the stone indicating telescopic vision.

When the people started using telescopic vision for the wrong things and turned to witchcraft, they lost the telescopic vision.

"Live simple. Migrate," Massau told them but they gave up the simple ways and destruction followed, Sanders said.

Maps left by the petroglyph writers wrap around the rocks to indicate direction.

Places the rock had been damaged or chipped away by natural forces are used symbolically. Moki's head is destroyed in one of the images, signified by a natural break in the rock.

The almost exact miniature of building above Casas Grandes appears in miniature in the rocks at Three Rivers, a miniature model enhanced by petroglyphs, Sanders said.

The archeologists in Santa Fe are cultural thieves, Sanders said. They turn up artifacts but "you can't dig up religion."

Sanders is an archologies himself. His company specializes in doing archeological studies for oil and gas companies. His company is doing so well he doesn't have to do the work himself anymore, he hires other archeologists to do it and he studies the Three Rivers petroglyphs.

Sanders has written 42 books on area subjects including several on the Three River Petroglyphs, one on Bent, and many other local archeological subjects.

His books can be found for sale at the Tularosa Reporter office, 501 Granado St. in Tularosa.

Return of remains, artifacts are focus of session at BU

Posted to NDN AIM by Erthavengr

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Nina Versaggi, director of the Public Archeology Facility, is gearing up for Tuesday's briefing to a committee of the Iroquois Confederacy. The session will address the return to tribes of sacred objects recovered from archaeological digs in the Southern Tier.

KATHRYN DEUEL / Press & Sun-Bulletin

VESTAL -- Nina Versaggi compares the meeting that will take place Tuesday at Binghamton University to a visit from a foreign delegation. But the delegates won't arrive from France, Germany or Spain. They'll be coming from independent Native American nations in upstate New York.

The visitors are from the Haudenosaunee Standing Committee, a committee of the Iroquois Confederacy that oversees repatriation and burials of Native American remains and artifacts. About 15 members of the committee will meet with officials from the university's Public Archaeology Facility to discuss the return to the tribes of human remains and sacred objects, and culturally significant artifacts accumulated over the years from archaeological digs in the Southern Tier.

Tuesday's consultation is one of a series of steps required by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, passed in 1990 to aid in the return of Native American grave goods and human remains.

"It's a major meeting," said Versaggi, director of the Public Archaeology Facility, a research center specializing in prehistoric and historic archaeology in the Tier. During the day-long consultation, the Public Archaeology Facility will give a slide presentation and briefing to the Haudenosaunee Committee on the objects unearthed at sites from Delaware to Chemung counties. Committee members will then meet privately to discuss which tribe is most closely associated with each site and which has the most legitimate claim to objects from the site, Versaggi said.

Included in the items are the remains of about 180 people, salvaged over a two-year period in the late 1960s from the Englebert Site near Nichols during construction of state Route 17. The site is the largest graveyard uncovered in central New York.

Other items come from donations made to the Public Archaeology Facility, and from excavations made at sites by archaeologists from BU, Versaggi said. The human remains and artifacts now fill hundreds of boxes, she stated. . Some of the boxes sit in a fireproof and climate-controlled room at Binghamton University. Others are stored at the New York State Museum in Albany. Some of the remains date from 140 A.D.

Most are from 900 A.D. to 1600 A.D., she said. The law requires museums and institutions receiving federal money to examine their collections and provide detailed inventories of human remains, items buried with a person, sacred objects and culturally significant items. This was a huge job for the Public Archaeology Facility. Staffers painstakingly looked through box after box, according to Versaggi

The facility received a National Park Service grant to help and also conducted a joint inventory with the New York State Museum. Once the inventory was completed, federal law required Binghamton University to consult with federally recognized Native American groups whose ancestors once occupied the sites to determine which groups could be affiliated with these items.

That's what's happening Tuesday. The delegation coming to BU will include chiefs from the Tonawanda Seneca, Onondaga Nation and Tuscarora Nation and a clan mother from the Cayuga Nation. "We're really on a research mission to find out what archival information the university has," said Rick Hill, chairman of the Haudenosaunee Standing Committee. The committee will then decide if it wants to submit any claims and which tribes have the best claims, he said. Some of their private discussions could be intense because "nothing is ever cut and dried," Versaggi said. Some of the sites could be on dividing lines between two Native American tribes, which could lead to disputes among delegates.

If committee members can't resolve disagreements locally, they will have to go to a national committee for arbitration, she added. Any claims submitted by the Haudenosaunee Standing Committee will be published in the Federal Register, Versaggi said. If there are no comments, repatriation of remains and artifacts could take place in the spring or summer of 2004, she said.

The Public Archaeology Facility is taking the process seriously, Versaggi said. And she said she feels a personal connection as well because she formed a close relationship with the late Paul Waterman, an Iroquois leader. "One thing he taught us was respect for his ancestors and those living today," she said.

Appeals court debates S.D. land transfer

Posted to NDN AIM by Erthavengr


A federal appeals court gave a cool reception on Monday to a South Dakota tribe seeking to halt the transfer of culturally significant land along the Missouri River.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe opposes the transfer on the grounds that it will harm burial grounds and other important sites. But a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals openly struggled with the complaint, noting that the parcels in dispute were already accepted by the state more than a year ago.

"We're having trouble understanding what the current harm is," said Judge David B. Sentelle.

Peter Capossela, an attorney for the tribe, argued that the land loses federal protections in the hands of the state. The tribe's repatriation and historic preservation rights are lessened under state control, he said.

"That state is out there on the ground," he told the court. "That's the difference."

The case stems from a federal law ushered through Congress in 1999 by Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and backed by then-governor Bill Janklow (R), now a Congressman. Contained in an appropriations act, it mandates the transfer of up to 150,000 acres of land to the state and to the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

At issue yesterday were 60 recreational sites whose deeds the state has accepted. A federal judge last year refused to enjoin the transfer, prompting the appeal to the D.C. Circuit.

Lisa Jones, a Department of Justice attorney representing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said that action mooted the tribe's complaint. She told the court that no violations of the Native American Graves Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) or other historic preservation laws have been claimed.

"Unless there's been some allegation of a violation of those laws, the tribe has no standing," she argued.

Capossela pointed to a separate case where the state and the Corps have failed to protect burial grounds along the Missouri River. The Yankton Sioux Tribe scored a NAGPRA victory last year by preventing construction on a recreational site.

But the judges weren't convinced and said the deeds require the state to follow all applicable laws.

"How could Congress have been clearer?" asked Judge David S. Tatel.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota have intervened in the case. In addition to the burial site claims, the tribes allege the transfer violates their treaty rights.

The case is Crow Creek Tribe v. White., No. 02-5049. The defendant is Thomas White, the Secretary of the Army, which oversees the Army Corps.

Native American artifacts pose pesticide exposure risk

American Chemical Society

(Posted to Councilfire by Phyllis von MIller)

An analysis of museum artifacts returned to California's Hoopa tribe through a federal repatriation act reveals traces of mercury and various pesticides, including DDT. Such chemicals — commonly applied in the past by museums to defend their collections against pests — could pose a risk to tribal members who may wear the objects during religious ceremonies, as well as to museum workers who handle the artifacts. Of the 17 artifacts studied, seven had a mercury level of more than 1 percent by weight, and one object had a level of more than 16 percent. Naphthalene and DDT were also found frequently throughout the samples.

The research is reported in the March 15 print edition of Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990 allows federally recognized tribes to request that museums return objects taken from their ancestors.

"Many Native Americans are now requesting that objects be returned to them under NAGPRA, and it is highly likely that these objects will be returned without any prior testing," says Peter Palmer, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at San Francisco State University and lead author of the paper.

Determining the potential threat to human health is a complicated issue, Palmer acknowledges. "We don't know the risks, we don't know the exposures, and hence more work needs to be done." There is currently no straightforward method to decontaminate the objects without damaging them, so until more study is done, Palmer suggests that the artifacts not be worn.

Museums have long used chemicals to protect valuable objects from rodents, insects and microorganisms. The earliest agents were various forms of arsenic and mercury salts, but as technology evolved, curators began using organic pesticides like DDT. Over the years, some pieces may have been treated with several applications of a variety of pesticides.

Many of these chemicals are now known to be dangerous and are no longer used in museums, but residues remain in trace quantities. "This problem is only now beginning to receive the attention it deserves," Palmer says. "Museum workers are at risk, as would be anyone who handles such objects that are contaminated."

The objects in this study were taken from the Hoopa, or Hupa, tribe in 1904 and kept at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University for most of the 20th century. In 1997, after three years of negotiation, 17 items were returned to the tribe, along with a letter saying the objects may be contaminated with a variety of pesticides used in the museum over the years.

A curator at the Hoopa Tribal Museum arranged for chemical analysis of the objects, which include headbands, feathers, baskets, necklaces and other ceremonial artifacts. The tribe collaborated with chemists and anthropologists at San Francisco State University to perform the study.

In addition to mercury and arsenic, the researchers targeted six pesticides that were used widely by museums in the past: p-dichlorobenzene, naphthalene, thymol, lindane, dieldrin and DDT.

Seven of the items had mercury in levels greater than 1 percent (based on the weight of the sample), and one set of eagle feathers had a mercury level of more than 16 percent. Naphthalene was detected most frequently on the artifacts, with DDT and mercury coming in second and third. Neither arsenic nor dieldrin was found on any of the objects.

Although further study is needed, Palmer and his colleagues say people should be aware and take measures to minimize exposure: "These results indicate that Hoopa tribal members should not wear these objects in religious ceremonies, proper precautions should be followed when dealing with potentially contaminated objects, and more serious consideration should be given to this issue at a national level."

— Jason Gorss

Archaeological-Protection Case Settled

Posted to NDN AIM by Erthavengr

The Associated Press 03/22/2003 newsid=7460638&PAG=461&rfi=9

SILVER CITY -- A settlement has been reached in an archaeological-protection case that will require a welding company and a landowner to pay $80,000 for disturbing Gila National Forest archaeological sites while building an unauthorized road.

The settlement, dated last month, requires Charles Cooksey and Spears Pipe and Welding to pay civil penalties. The amount is based on assessments of the scientific value of the information lost by the damage and disturbance to three archaeological sites.

The Gila National Forest will use the money to retrieve scientific information from the sites, which are in a heavily forested canyon, and repair the damage from the road.

All three of the sites are "lithic scatters," which means they have stone tools on them rather than the buildings or structures people associate with the later Mimbres culture of the area, said Gila forest archaeologist Gail Firebaugh-Smith.

The sites from nomadic hunter-gatherer people contain remnants of stone tools and the manufacture of stone tools, grinding stones for grinding up seeds and a very few pieces of pottery, she said.

"We think these sites are older than the Mimbres, dating to the period that we call archaic," Firebaugh-Smith said.

The sites might not be as impressive as those with pueblo ruins, but "these kinds of archaeological sites are just as important and just as valuable and tell us information about a different period in time, before people were building those big cliff dwellings," she said.

A Forest Service investigation found Cooksey hired Spears to widen and grade a dirt road to his private property through the surrounding forest.

Gila officials became aware in August 1999 that more than two miles of unauthorized road had been built in the Dark Canyon area of the Reserve ranger district in Catron County. Authorities who investigated found three prehistoric archaeological sites were damaged by the unauthorized road work, which disturbed more than 900 cubic yards of soil containing significant archaeological materials.

Cooksey and Spears were cited for violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. The Forest Service also notified Spears that it intended to seek the forfeiture of a transport truck, trailer and two tractor-dozers used to build the road.

The vehicles were not forfeited because the settlement was reached.

The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 prohibits damage, disturbance or alteration of archaeological resources on federal land. It also prohibits buying, selling, trafficking or receiving goods taken from American Indian or federal land in violation of the law.

Rectifying 'science run amok': Chicago museum returning remains to tribe in Canada

Posted to NDN AIM by Ishgooda

Wednesday, March 26, 2003\

native Haida people who lived, logged and fished off the coast of British

Field archaeologist Jonathan Haas called the excavation an example of "science run amok," and said the bones never should have been disturbed.

The Field Museum's remains, mostly skulls, were dug up during an expedition to the Queen Charlotte Islands in the early 1900s.

At the time, museums had set out "to get some of everything in natural history," Haas said. "We thought we could go out and collect the diversity of the world: You collect one emu and you collect one Haida."

Traditionally, Haida dead were buried in the ground, caves or funeral boxes atop mortuary poles.

Negotiations for the return of the remains began two years ago, after an inquiry from the Haida Nation.

Because the remains are from Canada, they are not covered by the U.S. repatriation law, which requires museums receiving federal funds to submit inventories of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony to the tribes from which they originated.

Haida Nation member Andrea Bell, who saw the bones earlier this month, said the Field was returning the remains freely.

She said all that is known about the bones' origins was which village they came from.

"We believe there's a spirit still attached to these remains, and they don't belong in metal cabinets," she said.

Last year, the Haida reclaimed about 48 remains from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

On the Net:

Mounds reveal much about culture

Posted to NDN AIM by ErthAvengr

Story last updated at 1:25 a.m. Friday, March 28, 2003

The Four-State Amateur Archaeological Society met March 4 and, after a short business session, heard a program by club member Mike Harrison on the Copena People, a sub-culture of the Burial Mound Period of North America.

According to Lt. Col. (Ret.) Floyd Lyerla, society advisor and promoter, it has been estimated that more than 10,000 mounds existed east of the Mississippi River at the time of the white intrusion. However, relatively few existed west of the Mississippi.

The mounds, which were constructed by ancestors of today's Amerindians, took several forms and provided varying usage, Lyerla said. There were, and still are, burial mounds, temple mounds, effigy mounds, defensive mounds and fortification mounds.

Fortification mounds can be compared to breast-works or berms.

A defensive mound was basically conical in shape. At varying heights a path would be cut entirely around the mound. If threatened by attack, residents of the area would grab their weapons and position themselves at varying heights in lines extending entirely around the conical mound. They would use various means to ward off objects hurled at them.

"Effigy mounds are just that," Lyerla said. "There is a huge one in Ohio that, from the air, has the appearance of a giant snake. Archaeologists are still scratching their heats over the true purpose of these earthy creations."

He said that a few burial mounds may date back to the late Archaic Period, which ended around 1000 B.C.

A larger number seem to be early Woodland Period, which is roughly 1000 B.C. to 1000 A.D. The majority of the burial mounds fall into the middle and late Woodland Period.

"This would take in such Burial Mound sub-cultures as the ADena, Hopewell, Copena, Hamilton, Harmon's Creek, Dallas, etc.," Lyerla said. "The main area of concentration was south of the Great Lakes, in the northeastern part of the midwest, basically in the valleys of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers."

Generally votive offerings, sometimes quite extravagant, were interred with the dead, he noted.

The Copena sub-culture got its name from the combining of the words copper and galena, from which they manufactured numerous artifacts. These are often found in their burials.

"Generally, burial mounds were relatively small," Lyerla said. "However, Indian Knoll in Kentucky has given up more than 1,000 burials and tens of thousands of artifacts. The Craig Mound in LeFore County, near Spiro, Okla., gave up dozens of burials and thousands of highly desirable artifacts. Both of these mounds are quite large compared to the average burial mound."

The largest mounds are known as Temple Mound Period creations, Lyerla said. These were generally constructed for ceremonial usage, and may or may not have provided living space for their "living god" on the truncated top. Books have been written about the Cahokia Monk's Mound near East St. Louis, Mo., the Mississippian Period Emerald Mound near Natchez, and Craig's Mound, commonly referred to as Spiro Mound.

The Temple Mound period was relatively short-lived, Lyerla said.

"It began around 1000 A.D. and faded away shortly before the white intrusion of North America," he said.

He recommends "Tribes That Slumber" by Lewis and Kneberg for those who wish to learn more about the Amerindian mound builders.

The Four-State Amateur Archaeological Society will meet at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday in room 108, Yates Hall, Pittsburg State University. All interested persons may attend.

Anyone wishing additional information about the society and its activities may contact Lyerla at 231-1237 or Jan Hula, current society president, 231-9476.

Go to News Archives Index

home : mission : updates : sites : learn : action : links : contact

Best viewed at screen resolutions 1024 x 768 and 800 x 600
Copyright Information
For site problems contact the webmaster