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

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