Opinion: Indian artifact theft difficult to combat
"It's no secret that pot-hunting, the unsuitably playful name given to the looting of American Indian archaeological sites, has been going on in the Four Corners region for decades.

But court documents filed in a recent big federal bust suggest the practice is ingrained in Southwestern culture in ways that will be difficult to combat.

In reading an application for a search warrant in one of the cases, there was a stunningly casual mention of the alleged involvement of government employees in the trade.

A U.S. Bureau of Land Management archaeologist, now deceased, was said to have initially pocketed a historically significant pipe that was later bought by a confidential informant working for federal authorities.

In another example, an unnamed park ranger found an American Indian knife on federal land near Telluride and sold it to a Grand Junction dealer.

If government employees are selling off the heritage they're supposed to be protecting, how can anyone take this new crackdown seriously?"

Get the Story:
Alicia Caldwell: Pilfering Indian artifacts (The Denver Post 6/28)

Relevant Documents:
DOI Press Release: Federal Agents Bust Ring of Antiquity Thieves Looting American Indian Sites for Priceless Treasures | DOJ Press Release: Arrests Made in Operation Targeting Network Selling Stolen Native American Artifacts | Remarks of Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden at a Press Conference

Related Stories:
Defendants in artifact theft linked to scheme (6/25)
Another defendant in artifact theft found dead (6/22)
Letter: GOP hypocrisy on artifact theft case (6/22)
Dorgan won't investigate artifact theft case (6/19)
Editorial: Pandering in Utah artifact theft case (6/18)
Attorney General defends Indian artifact case (6/18)
Art dealer denies wrongdoing after artifact raid (6/18)
Utah town upset over Indian artifact theft case (6/17)
Column: 'Overkill' in Indian artifact theft case (6/17)
Agents searched New Mexico art dealer's home (6/17)
Utah town upset over Indian artifact theft case (6/17)
Utah GOP upset with Indian artifact theft case (6/15)
Tribes support prosecution of artifact theft case (6/12)
Defendant in DOI artifact theft case found dead (6/12)
Two dozen indicted for theft of Indian artifacts (6/11)
Salazar, EchoHawk in Utah for press conference (6/10)

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