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Author Topic: US Laws on Treasure  (Read 3370 times)
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« Reply #30 on: November 23, 2006, 10:03:38 PM »

     Everything is in question, simply because there is money in it. Every court decision is appealable, up to the Supreme Court if one desires, and they decide whether to accept a case or not. One can drag the implementation of a decision out for years, and they do. Landowner rights shouldn't be in question, and one has to wonder whether this is being done by design.

    Last year, a Chicago man was renovating a house, and upon removing a plastered wall, he found an Thompson submachine gun in a canvas bag, in mint condition, along with several boxes of ammo and the hardware store receipt for it all. He called the police and they came and picked it all up, and still have it, won't return it. One gun dealer has offered him a minimum of $10k for it. They want to "keep it for posterities sake." Lawyers, cops, and many others all have different opinions of what can and can't be done under the law in this, and in many other cases.

     If the crown equates to the state, then clearly all trove belongs to the state, and the property owner has no rights in the matter. I know of no incident where the state has won in court on that basis. It is madness that every dispute must be adjudicated, no matter the precedent or the law. It all seems to be driven by various emotions.

     Decisions don't seem to matter, they are appealable, if you have the means to hire a lawyer. But the only reason for an lower court decision to be vacated is for an error in the law, in the judge's decision. Merits and precedence are not considered, and 'popular opinion', often media driven, can play a part.

     Valuable artifacts and their associated data/ knowledge are lost due to a find being kept secret, but no one cares enough at this time to do anything about it, as the UK seems to have done. No one takes blame, 'It ain't my job' to fix it, so nothing gets fixed. In fact, it is hard to identify what is even broken, and in need of repair.

     An agreeement with the land owner is necessary, when there is a clear individual identifiable as land owner. As I have shown elsewhere, up to 95 % of the land in the western US is govt. owned, and there-in lies the problem. A recent incident involving a large trove including other artifacts has come to my attention. All this is hearsay, and none of it may be true, but I will relay it as an example.

The find was made on BLM land. An attempt was made to reach an agreement for a finders fee. The negotiations went like this - "Show us where it and and we will discuss a finders fee." Obviously, the BLM agent making that statement had no authority to make a binding agreement. There is no provision in law for such a situation. And who wants 10% of a million or more when secrecy will give you a much bigger cut?

     The finder didn't fall for that one, as PM's assured me later. The find was recovered secretly and the govt. got nothing. Most treasure hunters agree that that is as it should be. If those involved can keep their lips sealed, the risk of getting into trouble is quite low. Is the govt. likely to investigate the matter? Maybe, maybe not. I am told that like the toilet stolen from the police station, they have nothing to go on. Were any laws violated in the matter? The answer depends upon who is asked the question, and good luck getting anyone to cite a specific law.

     If the scenario described is true, and a monetary gain was realized, the problem of reported income arises, and tax evasion is another risk. The govt. may not need to prove the trove came from 'their' land, and the punishment under the IRS would be severe. This is how the govt. 'got' Al Capone. Oh joy.

- Bart

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« Reply #31 on: November 24, 2006, 12:37:10 AM »

That doesn't surprise me RT, but would you really trust the Mexican Govt in % arrangement?  GrinI think we already know not what, but that, evil lurks in the heart of men.  GrinSi amigo?

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« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2006, 05:21:21 PM »

The Life and Times of the US Antiquities Act

by Joe Baker

There is the inevitable speculation about the day-to-day lives of the people who built the enormous sandstone pueblo beneath the soaring cliff, but my thoughts also turn to five brothers from Pennsylvania who came here in the late 19th century to homestead in the vicinity of modern Mancos, Colorado. The family name was Wetherhill.

Their Ute neighbors led them to some of the ruins, explaining that no one knew who?d built them, or when. The Wetherhills began exploring and casually collecting a few mementos. Then on the afternoon of December 8, 1888, from somewhere very close to where I?m standing, Richard Wetherhill and his brother-in-law saw the set of ruins they eventually named Cliff Palace.

The Wetherhills and some of their neighbors spent most of that winter camped there, digging. They packed their treasures on long mule trains: intact painted pots and jars, baskets, sandals, leather goods, stone tools, wooden objects; the entire material culture of the pueblo?s residents. They also packed up the desiccated remains of an unknown number of inhabitants. The Wetherhills eventually sold the hoard to the Colorado Historical Society for a very tidy sum.

At the abandoned pueblo, the silence of the plateau returned in the wake of the last departing mule train. Spring came, and the wind blew over the tumbled walls, empty graves, and trash piles left by the Wetherhills, gradually covering everything with tumbleweeds and dust.

A Shared Heritage

At the turn of the century, the way America viewed itself was changing. The mysterious, terrifying wilderness was nearly explored, railroads connected the coasts, and the aboriginal people were no longer a feared enemy. The America of the early 20th century was a confident young giant. Its vast expanses, its natural and historic wonders, set it apart from the stodgy Old World across the Atlantic. The Antiquities Act was born in this changing America, a child of the growing interest in the past and the natural world, and a response to the growing alarm over its destruction.

What the Wetherhills were up to was by no means an isolated incident. The excavation and sale of antiquities was rampant in the late 19th century. What was new was how Americans were viewing it. The Progressive Movement influenced opinion about the exploitation of both workers and natural resources. Concern over looting had its roots in the notion that the nation?s past and natural riches belonged to all of us, and were vital to our future. There was a growing sense of shared heritage; anything that threatened it was to be taken seriously.

The era figures prominently in the birth of American anthropology and archeology. In 1879, John Wesley Powell founded the Bureau of American Ethnology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science elected an anthropologist as president. What became the American Anthropological Association was formed, along with the Archaeological Institute of America. New perspectives began to influence what people thought of Native Americans, promoting the idea that the value of places like Mesa Verde transcended what its baskets would fetch on the antiquities market.

The best time to photograph Cliff Palace is at sunset, when the sun slants in below the overhang, producing the chiaroscuro that has captivated generations of photographers. Shortly before the last light, as I squeeze off a couple of shots, a few cars pull up and I am surrounded by families. Kids squeal and point, their parents and grandparents gasp at the architecture and landscape. They are from Iowa and Washington State, from Cape Hatteras and Zuni Pueblo. There is excited chatter, quiet amazement, the full range of human wonder. The early advocates for these places, flush with awe and reverence, had it exactly right. They knew the past belonged to everyone and acted to preserve this record of who we are. All of us at this overlook are in their debt.

The Dawn of Ancient Things

In 1880, a geologist named Adolph Bandelier appeared before the ruins at Pecos Pueblo near Santa Fe. He was both impressed and shocked by what he found.

The pueblo, visited by Coronado in 1540, was large, intricate, and beautiful, a tribute to the skills and aesthetic sense of the builders. It was also being shamelessly abused. Bandelier had been sent by the Archaeological Institute of America to record the ruins. In his report, he noted: ?Mrs. Kozlowski [who lived two miles south on the arroyo] informed me that in 1858 . . . the roof of the church was still in existence. Her husband tore it down, and used it for building out-houses. In general the vandalism committed in this venerable relic of antiquity defies all description . . . All the beams of the old structure are quaintly [carved with] much scroll work . . . Most of this was taken away, chipped into uncouth boxes, and sold, to be scattered everywhere. Not content with this, treasure hunters [have] ruthlessly disturbed the abodes of the dead.?

Bandelier?s report caused great concern. Some members of the Archaeological Institute, influential New Englanders, voiced that concern to their elected representatives.

The Pecos project, and the Wetherhill discoveries, led to further archeological investigations in the Southwest. Swedish archeologist Gustav Nordenskjold conducted state-of-the-art excavations at Mesa Verde in 1891, shipping a substantial collection back to Stockholm, where it remains to this day. A few years later, the American Museum of Natural History, with financing from wealthy New York collectors, excavated the spectacular Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico. A large quantity of artifacts wound up in New York. The foreman at these excavations, Richard Wetherhill, had by this time filed a homestead claim at Chaco Canyon, an attempt to corner the market on antiquities coming out of there. Homestead claims were being filed specifically for archeological sites. A lucrative antiquities market sprang up almost overnight.

The cumulative effect of the excavating and pillaging was heightened public concern. The two reports?by Bandelier and Nordenskjold?opened eyes to the wonders of American archeology. Packing artifacts from the Four Corners region off to the homes of the wealthy or to museums in New York and Sweden was seen as a violation of the public heritage.

In 1892, to protect Arizona?s Casa Grande ruin from looting, President Harrison issued an executive order declaring it off limits to homesteading. The order set two standards. One, it was the earliest example of the government intervening to save archeological sites, and two, it was the President acting, not Congress, significant in the chain of events leading to the Antiquities Act.

It was also a reflection of the limited preservation tools available to government at the time. Congress could create a national park, but that took a major legislative effort, and only worked for large, wellknown places like Yellowstone. Declaring a reserve for places like Casa Grande, while expedient, was only temporary. Between 1891 and 1906 the General Land Office?part of the Department of the Interior that managed federal lands in the West?pushed through reserves at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and other sites in the Southwest. It was the best the government could do.

In 1891, Congress gave the President authority to declare permanent timber reserves. The land office used this as a model for ancient sites, drafting legislation that would allow the President to set aside scenic and scientifically important places, too. This was more than many western congressmen were willing to give, particularly after Theodore Roosevelt established enormous forest reserves.

In 1904, in order to bolster the argument, the land office directed Edgar Lee Hewitt, a young archeologist who was gaining a reputation in the Southwest, to prepare a report on sites in the region. He drew on his contacts and the reports at the time to compile a list including what would be many of the first national monuments. Representative John Lacey of Iowa, with input from the anthropological community, shepherded a bill through Congress, which Roosevelt signed on June 8, 1906.

Spirits in the Canyon

Lynne Sebastian exits the low doorway of a tiny masonry room at Pueblo Bonito, the monumental multistory 12th century Anasazi ruin at Chaco Canyon, then turns to watch with some amusement as I squeeze my considerable bulk through the same small opening. I find we are standing at the edge of the great plaza, the heart of an immense desert community that dates back to before the arrival of Europeans. As I look back at the maze of rooms, walls, subterranean kivas, and windows, Lynne employs her flair for the dramatic to give me a little perspective. ?Until sometime in the early 20th century,? she says, ?this was the largest building in North America.?

There are few people who know more about this place than Lynne. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on Chaco and served as New Mexico?s preservation officer for a dozen years. Long familiarity has, if anything, sharpened her enthusiasm.

For me, this is my first visit, something of a dream come true. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a world heritage site, set aside as a national monument in 1907. It is one of the first archeological complexes so designated under the Antiquities Act. Splendidly isolated, it requires a long drive, some of it on primitive roads, to reach. The isolation helps protect it from being loved to death. In the course of a leisurely, six-hour ramble, Lynne leads me through some of the ruins, and we explore the silent remains of what must have been bustling and lively communities between 800 and 1200 AD. The magical names flood back to me from an undergraduate class almost 30 years ago: Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Del Arroyo.

Despite decades of excavations and thousands of scholarly reports, Chaco is still a place full of unanswered questions. What led bands of families to build in one of the world?s most austere and unforgiving environments? How did they organize? In whom did authority rest? What led to the sudden abandonment of these communities in the 13th century? We discuss this at length, and before we know it, it?s time for me to settle in to a tent at Chaco?s tiny campground. Before Lynne leaves, I ask a final question: It?s obvious why this place matters to archeologists, and it?s clearly of great importance to Native Americans, but what about the rest of the world?

She ponders the question for a moment. ?I think the most haunting and compelling thing about this place is its permanence. They built for the ages, with an eye to eternity. Just like us, these people were certain of their future. They believed they needed to build places that would last a thousand years, yet after only a couple hundred years, they were gone. There is something so moving, so sobering about that . . . maybe we see ourselves here.?

A Movement Gathers Steam

Things happened quickly after the passage of the Antiquities Act. Between 1906 and 1908, President Roosevelt established 16 national monuments, all in the western states. Ten, including the first at Wyoming?s Devil?s Tower, were designated primarily for their scenic and scientific value rather than for archeological or historic preservation.

The act had three precedent setting provisions. The first made it illegal to damage archeological sites on federal land, criminalizing looting. The second got rid of the word ?parks??a word that gave western legislators cold feet?replacing it with ?national monuments,? areas limited to just enough acreage to protect a site. The act gave the President sole authority to establish the monuments by proclamation. The third provision required a permit for excavations on federal land, demanding professional rigor.

Part of the act?s legacy is its role in preserving environmentally and geologically important places. While the first monuments were almost entirely in the western states, that soon changed. In 1916 Woodrow Wilson established Maine?s Sieur de? Monts, which eventually became Acadia National Park. Others followed including Mound City in Ohio (1923), Fort Wood, site of the Statue of Liberty, in New York (1924), and Forts Marion and Matanzas in Florida (1924). In total over a hundred monuments have been established, although some have been absorbed by other sites or redesignated as parks or state properties. While most are in the West, there are now monuments in 25 states. Every President has designated or expanded at least one monument.

The net effect is the protection of an enormous swath of heritage. Hopewell burial mounds, vast cave networks, numerous southwestern pueblos, gigantic redwoods, and 19th century forts are all part of the act?s legacy. And that goes well beyond the monuments themselves. Says Frank McManamon, chief archeologist of the National Park Service, ?The act defined a basic public concern for sites on public land, and asserted a fundamental right to how theywere to be treated.? That concern formed a foundation for all the laws that followed.

The accomplishment is breathtaking. Protected lands have preserved literally millions of acres of priceless cultural and environmental treasures. The statute is part of the legal foundation for preserving wild places, too. Several of the iconic parks?jewels like the Grand Canyon?began life as monuments in the early days of the Antiquities Act. They are a reminder that historic and environmental preservation were born more or less together.

A Timeless Idea

A few weeks after my visit to Chaco, I board the Port Authority train in Newark for the short hop across the river to New York, disembarking at the World Trade Center Station. The sight hits me like a punch in the stomach. The last time I was here, the towers still stood. I proceed up Broadway for a few blocks to the new federal building. It?s not the building that brings me here, but a small plot surrounded by a cyclone fence immediately adjacent. A national monument is under construction, one of the newest, established by President Bush in March. Three years ago, 419 individuals were interred on this spot, moved from their original resting place beneath the building. I am at the site of the African Burial Ground.

Among the residents of colonial New York was a substantial population of African descent. Some were free and some were not. Some arrived with the Dutch, others on British slavers from Africa or the Indies. Very little is known about day-to-day life in the community. Certainly life was harsh and segregated. So was death.

Persons of color could not be buried with Euro-Americans. Instead, their burial was relegated to a seven-acre plot on a ravine at the edge of the settlement. In the 1790s, the plot was filled with rubble to level the area for building sites. That fill, some 15 to 30 feet deep, protected the occupants for two centuries.

In 1991, during construction of the building, workers encountered the remains, touching off an emotional response from city residents. While the property was known to be within the old cemetery, planners assumed that generations of buildings had obliterated it.

Archeologists were called in, and uncovered hundreds of burials. The decoration of coffins and small things interred suggested connections to African customs. Chemical analysis revealed that most adults were born in Africa, although many children were born either here or in the Caribbean. Signs of stress and injury?from heavy labor and poor nutrition, even among the very young?were common. So was evidence of strong families, like women buried with infants and children. Slowly, during a decade of research, the details came into focus. These were lives of hardship and brutality, of stubborn devotion to family and tradition.

The African Burial Ground is a reminder that the Antiquities Act is hardly an anachronism. And there are new challenges ahead.

The National Park Service is not the only agency with national monuments. The Bureau of Land Management is the largest federal landowner in the West, with long experience managing wilderness areas and places with historic value. But much of its focus has been on the practical use, such as grazing leases and oil, gas, and mineral claims. With a number of monuments established in the 1990s, the agency faced some new and complex issues. Local sentiment was decidedly negative. Some feared that grazing, timbering, and other traditional activities were threatened.

BLM responded with the National Landscape Conservation System, an approach that allows for conservation in the context of the multiple-use mandate. BLM developed management plans for 15 of its monuments, with intensive involvement by local stakeholders. The result is, in a way, a new kind of monument. The plans are flexible enough to address grazing allotments and mineral extraction, while providing protection for resources ranging from cliff dwellings to old growth forests. There is still a lot of learning and adapting ahead, but the approach shows great promise.

The act faces another frontier at the shoreline. There are national monuments underwater, places rich in aquatic life, geological wonders, shipwrecks, and other historic remains. They are all exceedingly fragile. The traditional protection?a marine sanctuary?can take years. Establishing a monument can save the day with just the stroke of a pen.

Of course it?s much more complicated than that. There are complex issues of ownership and control. Protecting submerged sites can be costly, and law enforcement next to impossible. There are jurisdictional issues, too.

In 2003, the 419 individuals disinterred from the site of New York?s new federal building?along with all the small objects that accompanied them into the hereafter?were reburied in the plot behind the chain link fence that I now look through. Public art commemorating the burial ground adorns the lobby of the building. National Park Service exhibits will interpret the site and the history of the community. The monument will not only explain how these residents were buried, but who they were, how they lived their lives, and why they matter. One of the artworks is a mosaic of the city skyline on a foundation of human skulls, a metaphor of how modern New York, and modern America, rests on the lives and work of those who came before.

Certain places, like this one, are a palpable reminder of our predecessors, and what they left us. That?s ultimately what produced the Antiquities Act and what keeps it relevant. It is based on the simple yet powerful proposition that we should remember these people, so that we know who we are and where we came from. The lesson stays with me as I walk back toward where the great towers once stood.

Joe Baker is an archeologist and a member of the Society for American Archaeology Public Education Committee. He can be reached at (717) 705-1482, email .


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« Reply #33 on: December 02, 2006, 07:01:53 PM »

Cliff Palace ruin at Mesa Verde is one of the largest and best preserved Anasazi ruins. More than a hundred people lived here at one time. The ladder leads into the largest kiva, which has been painted inside. A tower at this site (not shown) has abstract paintings inside that resemble weavings.

Anasazi Basket Makers
In about 1 A.D., more than a thousand years before Christopher Columbus set foot on the New World, the Anasazi Basket Makers were excavating pit houses in the Southwest.  The Anasazi  ("the ancient ones") were the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona.  When Viking explorer Leif Ericson sailed for America around 1000 A.D., the Anasazi architects at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico had already built much of Pueblo Bonito, a spectacular multi-storied structure.  Today, in modern Taos, Pueblo Indians dry chilies beside the same doors as their ancestors did long before the founding of the Jamestown Colony in 1607.

Early pit houses were saucer-shaped, made of sticks, smeared with mud, and built partially underground.  Later pit houses had a framework of posts and cross-beams covered with brush to form the roof.  A hole in the floor, the Sipapu, symbolized the place where the first Anasazi emerged into this world.  Kivas, normally round stone structures used by later Pueblo Indians for religious ceremonies, are thought to be patterned after the early pit houses.

In time, the Anasazi built pit houses above ground with an entrance from a hole in the top.  By around 750 A.D., the Anasazi began building different types of dwellings built of adobe (a mud/clay mixture) or terrones (square blocks cut from mud) used like bricks.  When possible, a framework of slender upright poles plastered with mud (called jacal) was also used.

When sandstone was plentiful, dwellings were built of stone masonry, often around a central plaza.  Vigas  (wooden beams) formed the roof, small saplings (latillas) were laid between the vigas, followed by layers of twigs, reeds, mud, and finally topped with dry earth.  Anasazi Cliff Dwellers build multi-storied stone structures, reached by ladders, near or under overhanging cliffs at Mesa Verde and other sites.

Modern day Pueblo people inherited the architectural viewpoint of their Anasazi forefathers:

    * effective use of native materials
    * energy conservation in transporting materials
    * energy conservation in heating and cooling
    * harmony with the environment, conservation and stewardship
    * design with a broader world-view
    * All space is sacred; each house is a small example of the larger world.

Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon, 950-1150 CE

Sharing the region with the Anasazi were the Navajo.  Navajo hogans have taken several forms, from the early "forked stick" hogans with interlocking poles to the circular, stone-walled dwellings with log roofs.  Later hogans were often flat roofed, earth-covered square structures of four poles or they were six- or even eight-sided with notched logs forming their circular shape.  All hogans have a smoke hole in the roof and the door always faces to the east.  A blessing rite, where sacred corn pollen is smeared along the hogan poles, is performed to insure that a new hogan will be a happy place.

Pueblo Bonito ruins, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2006, 03:41:29 PM »

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

is a Federal law passed in 1990. NAGPRA provides a process for museums and Federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items -- human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony - to lineal descendants, culturally affiliated Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations. The National NAGPRA program assists the Secretary of the Interior with some of the Secretary's responsibilities under NAGPRA, and focuses on NAGPRA implementation outside of the National Park System.

Among its chief activities, National NAGPRA develops regulations and guidance for implementing NAGPRA; provides administrative and staff support for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Commitee; assists Indian tribes, Native Alaskan villages and corporations, Native Hawaiian organizations, museums, and Federal agencies with the NAGPRA process; maintains the Native American Consultation Database (NACD) and other online databases; provides training; manages a grants program; and makes program documents and publications available on the Web, including the two new NAGPRA brochures.

Law, Regulations, and Guidance

(This is a massive amount of data, so I am providing the outline here, with a link to actual text of the regulations here; http://NAGPRA www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/MANDATES/INDEX.HTM  - Bart )

A number of resources are available to assist museums, agencies, and Native American communities in carrying out NAGPRA. For additional information regarding the specialized terms used in NAGPRA, see the NAGPRA Glossary.

Law and Regulations

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq. [Nov. 16, 1990] PDF or Text
Final Regulations, 43 CFR 10 (includes preamble) [Dec. 04, 1995] PDF or Text
43 CFR 10 - Updated (Full Text, excluding preamble, of 43 CFR 10 as amended January 13, 1997; August 1, 1997; and May 5, 2003; and published in the Code of Federal Regulations October 1, 2003) [Oct. 01, 2003] PDF or Text
Reserved sections of the NAGPRA regulations
43 CFR 10.13, Future applicability proposed rule [Oct. 20, 2004] PDF or Text
43 CFR 10, Final Rule, Technical Amendment [Sep. 30, 2005] PDF
Secretarial Orders

Secretarial Order 3261 [Jul. 7, 2005] PDF

Summaries, Inventories, and Notices
Summary and Inventory Overview PDF
Cultural Affiliation PDF
Federal Register Notice preparation
Memorandum providing guidance on preparation of NAGPRA inventories [Apr. 27, 1995] PDF or Text

Excavations and Inadvertent Discoveries
43 CFR 10 Subpart B Overview (Excavations and Inadvertent Discoveries) PDF
Inadvertent Discoveries on Tribal Lands - Overview PDF
Inadvertent Discoveries on Federal Lands - Overview PDF
Intentional Excavations on Tribal and Federal Lands - Overview PDF
Priority of Custody/Ownership Flowchart [43 CFR 10.6 and 25 U.S.C. 3002(a)] PDF
Cultural Affiliation PDF
Plan of Action Checklist PDF
Comprehensive Agreement Checklist PDF
NAGPRA Section 3 and the Requirements of ARPA PDF
Comparison of NAGPRA, ARPA, and NHPA Section 106 PDF


Native American Consultation Database for tribal NAGPRA contact information
Bureau of Indian Affairs list of Federally Recognized Tribes (PDF) [Nov. 25, 2005]

Legislative and Regulatory History

US House Report 101-877 [Oct. 15, 1990] PDF or Text
US Senate Report 101-473 [Sep. 26, 1990] PDF or Text
Proposed Regulations, 43 CFR 10 [May 28, 1993] PDF or Text
Interim Civil Penalties Rule, 43 CFR 10.12 [Jan. 13, 1997] PDF or Text
Correcting amendments to final regulations [Aug. 01, 1997] PDF or Text
Final Civil Penalties Rule, 43 CFR 10.12 (includes preamble) [April 3, 2003] PDF or Text
Correction to the Final Civil Penalties Rule [Jul. 3, 2003] PDF or Text

Congressional Oversight and Proposed Amendments

May 10, 1993 Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing, S. Hrg 103-198 (Not available)
Dec. 6, 1995 Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing, S. Hrg 104-356
Jul. 30, 1996 Markup of S. 1983 (Not available)
Apr. 20, 1999 Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing, Witness list
Jul. 25, 2000 Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing, Witness list
Sep. 9, 2002 Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding S. 2598, S. Hrg 107-258
Oct. 11, 2004 Indian Affairs Committee regarding S. 2843, S. Hrg 108-406
Dec. 8, 2004 Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing, S. Hrg 108-768
May 12, 2005 Indian Affairs Committee regarding S. 536, S. Hrg 109-67
Jul. 28, 2005 Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing, Witness list
House of Representatives

Jun. 10, 1998 Resources Committee regarding H.R. 2893, Witness list and NPS testimony

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« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2006, 03:56:03 PM »

Am I right in thinking that this sets a procedure to handle human remains which is exclusive to Native Americans and therefore (by definition) sets them apart from the rest of the U.S. population?

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« Reply #36 on: December 11, 2006, 08:21:45 PM »

You are correct sir, that is what it is for, as the title states. Specifically, it is "a process for museums and Federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items, ".

When grave goods are found, generally on govt land, a tribe makes a request for their return, providing there is an obvious lineal or cultural affiliation. As in the case of the Kennewick man, the caveat was not apparent, and the matter ended up in Federal court for a decision. The agency in charge of oversight of the land where K. man was found, has since dumped thousands of tons of rip-rap, rock, over the site to prevent further investigation of the site. They were at first more than willing to return K. man remains over to the local tribe for reburial, most think for the same reason as above. Some interested scientists filed papers with the court in order to prevent that, and ultimately, the several subsequent court rulings have decided in favor of further study.

- Bart

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« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2006, 08:59:54 PM »

Thanks for that, Bart.

To help me grasp some of the implications of this, let me pose a scenario:
Three sets of human remains are found next year - one of a 15th-century Spaniard, another of a 19th-century Native American and the third of a late-18th century US colonial - all three in the same archaeological site, say an emergency dig on some construction site in Florida. How would they be treated differently?

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« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2006, 10:49:09 PM »

Solomon, one of the key problems in the case of the kennewick man is that he is apparently European.    This radically changes the later "native" ? American basis for a claim of  having even later Europeans take the land away from them and so  receive compensation.  This is why it is so important to them,  since it shows that later Native Americans took it away from earlier Europeans.  They do NOT want this investigated any further.

And Yes to your question, the Native Americans have laws to protect them.

Who ever told you that we Americans are rational ?

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« Reply #39 on: December 12, 2006, 09:14:58 AM »

" Three sets of human remains are found next year - one of a 15th-century Spaniard, another of a 19th-century Native American and the third of a late-18th century US colonial - all three in the same archaeological site, say an emergency dig on some construction site in Florida. How would they be treated differently? "

Wow, that is some scenario! My guess is that the Spaniard would end up in storage at a University or museum, the Amerindian would be handed over to the local tribe for reburial in their Native cemetary, and the Colonial would be re-interred in a local cemetary, likely with a Christian ceremony. But in reality, I believe it would take years before the dates were sorted out and any burying was done. And it may well end up in court, someone will be sure to find a way to do that. 

You may wish to contact a Florida anthro or archy and ask the same question of them, you may get an entirely different answer. And then ask the same question of the same folk in one or more other states, perhaps a sampling around the country. It would not surprise me in the least that you would get different answers entirely in each state.  Do not be surprised when you find out that ' Columbus First Last Only & Always' is set in reinforced concrete here. The worst that could happen is that you adopt some American thinking. The best that could happen is that you go off the deep end when you draw your conclusions at the end of your quest.  Wink

In short, it is impossible to say, and absolutely nothing would surprise me. Here is where I ask Jose to light a candle and beg his santos padron that this scenario never comes about in the US.  GrinMucho gracias mi amigo!

- Bart

Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #40 on: December 12, 2006, 10:51:19 AM »

I am struggling to come to terms with this. From my POV, the USA is renowned for equality in law, so the idea that a group of people, selected on race, should be set apart (or even above) others is difficult to accept.

"cultural affiliation" means that there is a relationship of shared group identity which can be reasonably traced historically or prehistorically between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group.

If it is true that the law was introduced to stop scientific investigation of precolumbian remains, then a determination of their genetic makeup would not be possible. This would perhaps classify all precolumbian human remains as Native American. I can see that this would not be satisfactory from a scientific viewpoint.


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« Reply #41 on: December 12, 2006, 08:57:51 PM »

" If it is true that the law was introduced to stop scientific investigation of precolumbian remains, then a determination of their genetic makeup would not be possible. This would perhaps classify all precolumbian human remains as Native American. I can see that this would not be satisfactory from a scientific viewpoint. "

" the USA is renowned for equality in law " Maybe so, but cultural flux and 'progress' create change, in this case political correctness is one of the driving forces. A trade-off occurs.

It is my understanding that the law was introduced for the purpose of repatriation of ancestral remains out of cultural/ religious respect. Equity in law is not a factor in such a scenario. All Federally recognized tribes have a sovereign status within the US, resulting in dual citizenship, with some tribes issuing their own passports.

Like many laws, some people at times find it useful for furthering a somewhat different agenda. Often a nefarious agenda is only suspected, with no way to prove it. Implementing repatriation obviously prevents scientific study, the one naturally follows the other. Rhetorical reasoning may go something like this - How many 19th century Native bones need to be studied before  just about everything is known?

In the case of Kennewick man, the assumption that the remains were Native American may have been the initial paramount motivation for repatriation. But the assumption is based upon the preconceived notion of Columbus First Last Only & Always.

Kennewick man ruling - politics or science?
14 February 2004

Native Americans called him "The Ancient One", while anthropologists speculated he could reveal who first settled the Americas.

Then, for over seven years, the skeleton of Kennewick Man became the subject of a court battle between the two parties, crystallising the debate over who should lay claim to ancient human remains and artefact's.

Last week, a federal appeals court finally granted scientists the right to study the 9200-year-old bones, against the wishes of a group of native American tribes, including the Nez Perce tribe of Idaho and those of the Yakima Indian Nation, who wished to rebury them.

But the ruling may actually be a triumph of politics over science, since Kennewick Man could be of limited value to anthropologists. The archaeological site where it was found has been destroyed, taking with it vital contextual information. And, while the skeleton has gathered dust, other potentially more important skeletons have been unearthed.

But the researchers say it is the principle of access to such remains that counts. "If we'd caved in on this one, it would have closed the door to research on other early skeletons," says anthropologist Rob Bonnichsen of Texas A&M University at College Station, a plaintiff in the case. ( a precedent would have been set if the court challenge had not been implemented)

Unusual features

     The skeleton hit the headlines in 1996 when it was discovered along the north bank of the Columbia river in Kennewick, Washington. Carbon dating revealed the remains were between 8340 and 9200 years old, the oldest found in the Pacific north-west - then thought to be the first part of the Americas to be colonised. (the Bering Straight land - bridge theory)

     Anthropologists were also excited because the skeleton was 90 per cent complete and had unusual features differing from those of Europeans or modern native Americans.

     However, tribal officials demanded that the bones be reburied, claiming they had a right to inter their alleged forebear under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. At the time, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who managed the federal land where the bones were found, decided in their favour. (They are entitled by the law to request, showing proper evidence of affiliation, but in this case they demanded)

     Eight scientists, including Bonnichsen, sued the federal government in October 1996 to block the reburial, and the case has been in the courts ever since.

     Shortly after the discovery, a select group of government scientists were allowed to study the remains. They concluded that Kennewick Man's ancestors came from Japan, Polynesia or south-east Asia. Co-plaintiff Loring Brace of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, says, "I'd like to get my calipers on it," as he, like many others, is eager to compare it with other skeletons from the same period.

     Concrete blocks
      In the years since Kennewick Man came to light, however, several additional skeletons more than 8000 years old have been found, which also seem distinct from later populations. Most believe they came to the Americas from south-east, and then north-east, Asia at the end of the ice age, between 11,000 and 14,000 years ago.

     It is not clear what Kennewick Man will add to this picture. "Until the research is done, you don't know," says Bonnichsen.

     Although the skeleton remains intact, the site where it was found did not. In April 1998 the USACE dumped concrete blocks onto the site, supposedly to protect it from erosion, then planted trees. That is likely to have obliterated any archaeological evidence as well as any organic material that could be carbon dated to confirm Kennewick Man's age. (Nefarious agenda?)

     The bones were found after erosion washed away the river bank, so it is unclear whether they had been buried. A brief examination of the bank showed no evidence of any graves or artefact's, says geoarchaeologist Gary Huckleberry of Washington State University in Pullman. "The only material we found was historic trash."

    But tribal opposition blocked him from digging to discover and analyse the stratigraphy, the order and position of the layers of remains which is a vital element in understanding the skeleton itself.

     Last week's decision upheld the ruling by the Ninth Circuit court in Oregon that the tribes had not clearly shown they are related to Kennewick Man, as required by the repatriation law. Either the federal government or the tribes could still appeal, but it is subject to approval by the Supreme Court which is far from guaranteed. No such appeal had been filed as New Scientist went to press.

source linkhttp://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4666

     Earlier this month, the corps paid $160000 to cover the Kennewick Man site to ... of racial clashes and political correctness, of guilt, power and justice - http://www.wweek.com/html/cover042298.html

http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000053AD.htm - Kennewick Man: burying the truth about America's past

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20050824-9999-1c24caveside.html - In Washington state, Kennewick Man is the poster child of political wrangling.

http://archaeology.about.com/od/kennewickman/a/kennewick7.htm - Kennewick Man, Part 7: Science, Religion, and Politics (A volatile mixture, those three)

It is not surprising that others cannot make sense of all this, many of us here cannot either. It seems that no sooner is a course decided upon (NAGPRA), than something comes along to challenge the whole rationale of it. Do we change course? Nah, we struggle with it, muddle through it, mess things up, and make lawyers fat. One would think the the $160,000 spent/ wasted on destroying the K. man site could have been better used to study the bones and site to resolve the issue quickly and satisfactorily. Imagine if all the attorney fees had been thrown into that study also. Advancement of knowledge and understanding of our heritage certainly doesn't appear to be the focus. If you can make sense of it, please enlighten us, the frustration is breeding cynicism.

- Bart


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
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« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2006, 05:38:59 AM »

Hey Solomon,

I have been corresponding with the Chief Archaeologist for one of our National Forests. I will pose your question to him. I think it would be great to hear his views on the matter.

I will post his reply.



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« Reply #43 on: December 16, 2006, 03:14:34 PM »

I found this useful advice, as it comes from a govt employee, and covers the entire spectrum of concerns.

- Bart


US Government Property: Down and Dirty

     The following sections discuss the most common types of US property and provide advice on whether or not you can legally detect them.  Many metal detecting activities on US property are governed by the Antiquities Act of 1906 or the Mining Law of 1872.  Of the US Government Properties that you can detect or prospect on, the administrating agency may require permits.  So as always, follow the Treasure Hunter's Code of Ethics and ensure you contact them for permission.  I do know for certain that you cannot relic hunt on any property owned by the US Government - which laws define as any manmade object more than 50 years old (ARPA - Archeological Resources Protection Act).  So what does that leave? 

     How does GOLD sound to you?  You can find it in almost every state, but if you don't know where, join the Gold Prospector's Association of America (GPAA).  They'll supply you with maps to their exclusive claims, know-how, motivation, and experience on public lands to be a successful nugget shooter or prospector.


     National Forests - Yes, you can metal detect for items less than 50 years old, prospect for gold, and even file a claim in most forests except in specially designated historical areas.  Only detecting on designated historical sites will require a permit (don't bother trying - only the pros can get these).  Rangers have a very good reputation with being helpful and supportive.  Nevertheless, they are also concerned about historic sites, and may even have misunderstandings about sluicing and dredging when it comes to the environmentAlways talk to your district ranger before you head out, but don't always accept the first "no" you hear.  Here's a quick course in your average federal employee's work ethic (I am one):  If they don't know, its just easier for them to say HELL NO! 

     U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - "Title 36--Parks, Forests, and Public Property Chapter III--U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Part 327--Rules And Regulations Governing Public Use Of Water Resources Development Projects Administered By The Chief Of Engineers. (d) The use of metal detectors is permitted on designated beaches or other previously disturbed areas unless prohibited by the District Commander for reasons of protection of archaeological, historical or paleontological resources.  Specific information regarding metal detector policy and designated use areas is available at the Manager's Office.  Items found must be handled in accordance with Sections 327.15 and 327.16 except for non-identifiable items such as coins of value less than $25.....A violation of the provisions of this regulation (Title 36) shall subject the violator to a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both."   

     Bureau of Land Management - Absolutely YES!  Detecting is allowed without a written permit on most of this land.  As of this writing, there was no requirement for permits unless you are in an historic area.  This federal agency within the Department of the Interior administers over 270 million acres nationwide and many people have claims on this land. 


     Military Reservations - Even if you happened to come across a military reservation that was in a gold producing area, and you received permission from the Installation Commanding General, you would still need to have business on the post just to enter the gates after 9/11.  For most of us, this is an impossible set of circumstances, but if you think you could fall into this category - more power to you.  Just make sure you schedule a class at Range Control so they can tell you where the artillery impact areas are!

"Indian" Reservations - Unless you are a member of the tribe, and you've read and adhered by all the various tribal regulations, DO NOT ATTEMPT!


     National Parks and Monuments - Absolutely not!  You can't even have a metal detector in the trunk of your car on this land.  I've often heard these guys referred to as the "Pull Tab Gestapo."  Don't even attempt to ask for written permission.  All they need is "the suspicion of" to fine and arrest you.  It doesn't matter if you want to hunt a campsite playground or just try to find your wife's cherished wedding ring of twenty years.  You can either Write your Congressman (add keywords: "Arbitrary and Capricious" or "Unconstitutional") or just thank the idiot who was "night-hawking" in the Shiloh National Battlefield for lighting the fire in the first place!

     Here's some of the black and white pertaining mostly to relic hunting on various US Government Property (pretty exciting stuff, I might add).  Keep in mind that federal agencies are empowered to make rules that have the full force of law.  What may be lawful one day, may not be in just 90 days (read the current Federal Register).  Always get permission no matter where you go, but the real bottom line is that it is MUCH easier to metal detect on private property than government.

Copying a line from the following list and Google searching them will get you to the text of the actual laws for each category.

Title 16, Chapter 1b ? Archaeological Resources Protection

Title 16, Section 431 ? National Monuments; Reservation of Lands;
Relinquishment of Private Claims

Title 16, Section 432 ? Permits to Examine Ruins, Excavations,
and Gathering of Objects; Regulations

Title 16, Section 433 ? American Antiquities

Title 18, Section 641 ? Public Money, Property or Records

Title 43, Section 1701 ? Federal Land Policy and Management Act

Title 30 - Mineral Lands and Mining


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« Reply #44 on: December 16, 2006, 04:11:20 PM »


" The nature of looting in the United States resembles that of many other countries. "

There is  money in it, the amounts referred to in the article are substantial. We also need to keep in mind that looters visit websites for locations.

- Bart


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
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