“Yakima, Wash. — Two Goldendale residents found guilty of looting American Indian artifacts from a Yakama Nation cultural site have been sentenced to pay $6,690 in damages and placed on two years probation. The pair have also been sentenced to 150 hours each of community service.Devin Prouty, 27 and Tiffany E. Larson, 24, both pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to unlawfully removing artifacts, including rocks, rock flakes made by indigenous people and arrowheads from Spearfish Park near the Columbia River in Klickitat County…”
Looting is a serious problem in Washington and Oregon States but is it one in British Columbia as well?
As the article states,
On Aug. 15, 2009, Prouty and Larson — along with two other people — were found removing arrowheads and rock flakes from the park by a federal natural resource specialist conducting a routine patrol of the area, according to federal court documents.
What is striking about this case is not the commonplace practice of looting artifacts but that there was a government employee conducting a routine patrol with the authority and the motivation and knowledge to arrest people for looting. This is something we need in British Columbia – archaeological wardens in the field, much as we have fisheries or forestry wardens (mind you, they too are being cut back all over the place): trained people in the field actively keeping an eye on the archaeological heritage, monitoring sites, checking for unauthorized disturbances, and even doing spot checks on consulting jobs. How do we even know what the scale of the looting problem is in British Columbia? Do we depend on the sharp eyes and goodwill of the very few people knowledgeable and pro-active about the archaeological record to voluntarily report suspicious behaviour? How do we go from that to actual arrests and charges under the Heritage Conservation Act?
I know it is a contentious issue and maybe it is somehow thought to be un-Canadian to actually charge people in this manner or certainly to publicize the miscreant’s names, but I am feeling a bit fighty today and don’t mind saying, let’s start charging more people under the Heritage Conservation Act for destroying archaeology, and to that end, let’s get some government archaeologists out into the field to keep an eye on the archaeological resources of this vast province.
Or actually, I’ll walk that back a bit: as I said, do we know whether or not looting is a problem in British Columbia and what the scale of that problem is? How do we know? Are data collected and in what manner and by whom? This despicable outfit continues to advertise BC artifacts (alongside thousands of American NW examples) for sale for big money on the web – it’s more or less the guy’s word of honour where the stuff he sells comes from, and when and how it was found, and that just isn’t good enough.
The hand-maul above lists at $2,500.00 and is described as “Very highly polished Museum quality Northwest Nipple Top Maul. Best and only Mutton -Fat Jade example I have seen to date. Found by Glen Broatch and is from my personal Collection. Please keep in mind examples like these of this quality do not come available very often so don’t miss out on a chance to add a piece of quality stone such as one of these to your collection. This will come with full finder history to the buyer!
On the same page you can see “Personal find in the Lytton area in the early 90’s by Tony Hardie*, and comes with full providence to the buyer. This stone has some very nice pictograph work all over the entire piece. Probably spalled in a fire which would explain the damage on the bottom of the bowl.. Don’t miss out on this one! These do not come available very often from private collections, most remain in museums. $500.00.
Presumably there is some loophole protecting this unethical and shady character from profiting by his possibly illegal activities, or he could be charged by now – right? I mean, selling strings of “Marpole Phase – 3000 BP [sic] beads” which are most likely grave goods can’t be completely above board? Or is it? Are we okay with that? Not that getting less than a dollar a bead is all that lucrative – its just even more sickening. This guy is ripe for a “sting” operation.
* Tony Hardie is the owner of the busines operating at BCArtifacts.com and gives his contact information:
EMAIL at email@example.com
PHONE at (778)-386-3110
B.C. Artifacts, LTD.
PO Box 71088
7921 120 Street
Delta, BC V4C 8E7