Skip to comments.Archaeology question - land rights
Posted on 05/13/2013 3:54:26 PM PDT by djf
This is a completely hypothetical question.
Let's imagine there is a guy who lives in Washington state. Let's imagine he was helping out a friend, on his friends private property. Let's imagine he found something man-made and quite old... Let's imagine it looks like a piece of carved antler with intricate designs done what appears to be most likely by Native Americans... Let's imagine that the guy decides it MIGHT NOT be a good idea to run down to the local Tribal headquarters and say "Hey, I think I found something your uncle left around..."
Other than that, what does a guy do? Anybody ever hear of land rights issues and Indian (there, I said it) artifacts? You know, all the Sacred burial ground stuff!
In general, anywhere an indian took a dump is now sacred ground.
Would the hypothetical guy want to make money or enhance historical knowledge...or both...or neither?
I would check the specific state’s archaeological rights laws. They vary by state and the type of find you have. Burial sites are usually given the highest protections.
Here are some examples from Oregon.
Example of the danger:
April 6 2011
Nick Laws pleaded guilty last July to selling a religious artifact known as twin effigy and was sentenced to 24 months of probation.
Treat it as you would an arrowhead.
I think the first thing the hypothetical guy would like to do is somehow, some way, get info/verification of what exactly it is he found.
The age, the style, possible origins, that sort of thing.
But ONLY ONLY ONLY if it can be done without jeopardizing his friends property rights!
Does that mean the best thing to do is tie it to a brick and throw it off the Tacoma Narrows bridge???
*ping* for artifact advice
*ping* for artifact advice
In the State of Washington archaeological sites are protected, even those on private property. Since 1974 it has been illegal to knowingly disturb archaeological sites or resources on private or public property without a permit from theWashington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP). The 1974 Archaeological Sites and Resources law protects all prehistoric sites and any historic properties abandoned for more than 30 years. Civil penalties as well as the costs necessary to investigate and restore the disturbed archaeological site can be imposed and any resulting artifacts can be seized.
Private land owner have a number of rights. Artifacts that are legally discovered on their property (either as individual finds or as part of a legally permitted archaeological survey or dig) belong to the land owner. Archaeological sites discovered on private property cannot be legally registered without the permission of the landowner. If the private property owner chooses to register their site there are incentives available to the landowner such as tax breaks, easements, and open space designations.
Since 1941 all bones and artifacts within Native American graves and unmarked burials have been protected. The 1941 Indian Graves and Records law prohibits knowingly disturbing graves and makes such activities a class C felony. This law also prevents the sale of any grave goods or human remains removed from such graves. The inadvertent disturbance of graves requires reburial with the supervision of the appropriate Indian tribe.
The full list of Washington State laws affecting archaeological resources is available through the WA DAHP website.
NAGPRA the federal law is probably what you’re thinking of. It was implemented because some jagoff decided to sell gravesites off his property for people to dig up for fun. If your friend has gravesites on his property he would run fowl of the law.
Artifacts such as what you have are private property. Responsible owners might alert an archeology department that he has a site on his property. I worked on a dig that was on a farm in Ohio. There were no graves. The site was dated to about 1000ya and was a Woodland period site. The farmer liked learning about the previous inhabitants.
“fowl” or even foul
I ain’t got nuthin.
This is a total fiction.
How about anonymous photos to the curator of the museum in Victoria?
Keep the stuff for a while...play dumb...like your father bought it at an auction 50 years ago...and then sell it or whatever.
While he’s at it, see if he can find any spotted owls, rare mice, or frogs on his property.
Varies by the state, but inquiries with gubmint authorities should be handled as anonymously as possible.
Because we look for Indian artifacts on our own property, I understand that as long as it is on private property then it is ok. If you find bones or a skull you are supposed to call the local sheriff but if you just dig it up it belongs to the land owner.
I grew up in upstate NY Finger Lakes area. My dad found arrowheads all the time. The area has a native flint rock that makes perfect (and very sharp!) arrow and spear heads.
I think my sister might still have a couple of them.
I would take it to an Archeological Dept. at a university. Tell them you found it while hiking years ago and you have been wondering about it for years. Let them figure it out. I myself would never take it to any Indian tribal counsel.
If you dug up an M-16 would you take to the police?