Convictions in Yakima Looting Case, with comments on B.C.

Looting at Wakemap Mound, 1957.

A news snippet from Washington State: from the Yakima Herald-Republic, via the excellent Washington Department of Archaeology and Heritage Preservation Blog.

“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 [redacted] 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.


So-called “St Mungo Phase” handmaul “found in Delta BC” for sale. Source: [redacted]

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 [redacted], 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.



“More than 400 Ground Stone Marpole Phase Beads in this group. This will make a very large strand! Full history sent to buyer with statement of provenience. SUPER PRICE!! $350.00” Source: [redacted]

*  [redacted] is the owner of the business operating at [redacted] and gives his contact information:


48 responses to “Convictions in Yakima Looting Case, with comments on B.C.

  1. I’m really glad to see you found a way to use the link I showed you! Maybe with the traffic this site gets by professionals, someone will have more knowledge on what to do with him.

    Maybe we should get a bunch of tough-looking dancers and basketball players from all over the coast to put on their powerful traditional clothing and knock on his door so that he knows to whom these items belong. You know, just some gentle persuasion..
    If he’s not heavily cursed by now I hope he is soon.


    • Hi Chris,

      No, he should only be dealt with by legal means.

      I must say, I am unclear what those are, exactly. Would he export those BC artifacts if the seller was not Canadian? Would that matter legally by bringing in other laws than the HCA? I’d really like to see this tested in court, to be honest, because I have heard many times people who might play a role in stopping these sorts of things say, “well, we have a legal opinion that such and such is not enforceable” or similar phrases.

      The problem with that is, lawyers are paid to give opinions and to be advocates. Judges are paid to make decisions. The only way to know whether something is or is not allowed under an ambiguous law is to test it in court. The government should be willing to take the lead on that and not rely on getting legal opinions. Find a different lawyer if you have to. That’s what lawyers are for 🙂

      The point being, I keep hearing how the Heritage Conservation Act is a very strong law – and I can see that it is on paper – but if it can’t stop this guy selling these artifacts then the law is incomplete. And yet I do wonder if the strength of the HCA is being actively and deliberately undercut by political (not legal) decisions not to enforce it or at the very least test it in court.

      I mean, section 1 of the act says:

      1 In this Act:

      “alter” means to change in any manner and, without limiting this, includes

      (a) the making of an improvement, as defined in the Builders Lien Act, and

      (b) any action that detracts from the heritage value of a heritage site or a heritage object;


      “heritage object” means, whether designated or not, personal property that has heritage value to British Columbia, a community or an aboriginal people;

      “heritage value” means the historical, cultural, aesthetic, scientific or educational worth or usefulness of a site or object;

      Prima facie, that’s the intent of the elected legislature right there. Further:

      13 (1) Except as authorized by a permit issued under section 12 or 14, a person must not remove, or attempt to remove, from British Columbia a heritage object that is protected under subsection (2) or which has been removed from a site protected under subsection (2).

      Where as far as I can tell 13(2) refers to any and all archaeological sites.

      I dunno, someone in another country should buy a bag of his looted beads, document the transaction and then see how the cookie crumbles.

      Full text of the HCA:


  2. ‘Collecting’ in BC is suffering a resurgence I’m afraid. More people are aware of what artifacts look like nowadays, and in times of economic prosperity collecting of all things curious and interesting (i.e. coins, art, cars) is one way people exhibit their expendable wealth. Its very Victorian, and yesterday’s ‘explorers’ are today’s ‘ebayers’. Considering that lint from famous people has a market, it isn’t surprising that more tangible items such as artifacts are popular curios. Doesn’t make it right though, and I shouldn’t have to say it. If it isn’t yours, let it be ! (Goes for fossils too, my opinion)

    Mind you, for many a Permitted archaeologist is just a legally licenced collector … I hear that one on a regular basis still.


  3. In my defence: I must say that I am an ethical collector and of First Nation heritage and desent. I have a love and passion for Northwest History and archaeology like no other. I HAVE NEVER DUG A SINGLE INDIAN ARTIFACT EVER!! I DO NOT GET A TAX PAYER FUNDED PAY CHEQUE FOR WHAT I DO! I DO NOT MILK FIRST NATIONS FOR MONIES. I DO NOT PROMOTE LOOTING OF ANY KIND EVER! There are grandfather clauses that you must be aware of? GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND!! There have been collectors since the early days of man and always will be. STOP pushing it underground, its a loss to all concerned and the information it provides can never be replaced once it is gone. I feel its time to stop building walls between collectors and professionals and start to educate and work together. Progress is taking sites every day and the way the laws are now it promotes contractors to destroy and remove any traces of the past so they won’t be delayed or get a bill. What a Joke! Construction,Highways and Dams have taken and destroyed more artifacts than any collectors over the past century. There are good and bad in all aspects of life and its time you stop painting everyone with the same brush! The public can police themselves with isolated finds programs and public awareness websites so surface collected artifacts can be shown and learned from without fear and pressure that it will be taken from the finder. Europe has many programs that need a closer look at so they may be implemented here so they can benefit all. Love to spearhead a program like that myself and would be willing to donate a good chunk of my spare time to help it work and get off the ground. Are You? You need to look back to how it started and how the collectors were founders of most archeolical societies that exist today. Charles Borden, and Emory Strong are just a couple that come to mind off hand. I do have every right in this country the last time I checked to be a Collector/Dealer just as you have to be in the field of archaeology. I have been legally collecting buying and trading Arrowheads, Artifacts, Old Bottles and various other Collectables from BC and the Northwest since I was 10 years old and have amassed thru inheritance, purchasing and acquisition a Collection that can be viewed on my Website at BC I sell very few BC Artifacts at all. I inform many collectors of the Heritage Act and WILL NOT BUY RECENTLY OBTAINED ARTIFACTS! I presently seek out and purchase only legally obtained “Old timer Collections from the 1950’s and early 1960’s of Indian artifacts and Trade Items” and all come with notarized documentation stating where and when found and by whom. I Document all Collections I purchase recording digital images of every item and presenting the owners with a complementary bound and printed copy in recognition of the countless hours that many of them spent collecting these with loved ones as I used to do myself on camping trips and such. Many of these artifacts have been salvaged in the wake of Dams and highways and so called human progress. I then proceed to sell the items on my website at to recoup my capital so I may purchase the next one that comes available. I also preserve some of the finest specimens and unusual items of significance in my personal Collection. I make these available for study for a deposit. I have helped many Schools and institutions with obtaining fine well documented authentic artifacts from the past. Look forward to any response. This is a very important topic that really needs more study and a second and third look. Stop building walls, and shooting yourselves in the foot, lets work together and take a few steps to a proactive future between all the people that have a passion for the past……………………….


  4. …………..Just a couple more thoughts on this topic, looks like there is a fair bit of slander and assumptions in this blog about BC Artifacts Ltd. and grounds for a law suit. There are grandfather clauses and statues that all these artifacts fall under. I have very good history on the marpole beads I sell and know they are from a cache and not a burial item. I don’t believe that the Oregon Archeological Societies and the families that enjoyed collecting salvaging, surface collecting,screening and digging the artifacts during the 50’s, preserving the beautiful Columbia River peoples, art and artifacts from the destruction of the Dams and Water damage that followed have anything to do with me? I say this has nothing to do with BC Artifacts Ltd. I was not there although I will document and sell artifacts from this dig and salvage when they become available as it was legal to collect them at that time and sell them now. Why the reference to Wakmap Mound Dig picture on this blog? Has nothing to do with BC Artifacts Ltd.! Also exactly what connection due you believe that I had with this looting in Yakima? I say None! We do not promote or ever deal with looters at BC artifact Ltd.! I am nor unethical or shady and will not tolerate that sort of slander! Thanks for you professional opinions as well from Chris look forward to a visit like that its right up there with all the bad karma that I don’t have. I am very cursed with being born in the most beautiful place in the world and being ancestor to the best Nation the interior salish people of British Columbia and having such a deep love for my history and ansetry.
    This all smells just a bit like entrapment there qmackie. I don’t think a few beads protected under grandfather clauses and statues of limitations are worth pursuing in court? I suggest the webmaster should edit this soon or be included in any legal proceedings that I will pursue for slander and uttering threats. Also please remove my contact info and images as I did not authorize the reproduction of them on your blog. Thanks Tony Hardie /BC ARTIFACTS LTD.


  5. BCArchaeologist

    Tony, cool your jets. This is a blog about NWC archaeology. Your website has had its profile raised considerably by being named here. Your images are fully attributed to your website and clicking on them takes the reader to your site. You get all the credit you need.

    If you are expecting an answer from qmackie then you will have to wait a while, he is in the field for a month and away from the internet.

    You start off in your first post by saying you want to open a discussion with archaeologists and find ways to work together, or something like that. Who wans to talk with someone that is so angry and threatens lawsuits? Bullying behaviours eliminate any room for respect. It also makes it sound like you have something to hide. SHOUTING does not help. If you want to have a reasonable discussion with the archaeological community, you are going to have to change your approach.

    Even so, here is a small attempt to engage you in such a discussion. You seem to be unaware of the extensive efforts that have been made in BC in the past to document private collections and to centralise some of that information so that it is accessible to professional archaeologists, as well as providing opportunities to educate and work with collectors. The ASBC has had a program like that for decades. The RBCM, prior to losing most of their staff, routinely documented, photographed and labelled private collections. Someone else can probably write more knowledgeably about those initiatives. The Midden, publication of the ASBC has recently had articles about their program.

    There are a lot of good reasons why artifacts should not be for sale. One of the main ones is that the lure of big bucks, or even small change, does encourage people to loot sites and destroy the contextual information that comes with them. I have seen sites totally pillaged for beads to be sold at 25 cents each. By kids encouraged by a “collector” who then sold them on. There is systematic looting from the draw down zones of reservoirs to make money for the people collecting. The Canadian Museums Association and all their members have a long established policy that they will not do a valuation of archaeological artifacts. This is because it encourages people to dig for artifacts in order to sell them.

    Therefore, your website and your business is bad for archaeology, not good for it. It promotes the idea that artifacts are a commodity that can be traded. Regardless of your own personal ethics, this market encourages illegal collecting and illegal damage to sites. Its really very simple, a market in artifacts is bad for archaeological conservation and preservation.

    I don’t get what does your first nations ancestry has to do with anything here? Does it give you a genetic right of some kind to be in this market? Does it somehow make it OK to participate in activities that encourage destruction of the sites left by your ancestors? I don’t get it.

    BTW – how do you know those beads were from a cache? You make it sound like you only trade in surface collections. It would take very careful excavation by experienced people to distinguish between a cache in a burial where all the bone has dissolved away and a cache in some other kind of pit. If you know its a cache, then it must have been excavated. If it was excavated, then it destroyed important archaelogical information – far more important than the beads themselves.

    And, one final thing. Show me a grandfather clause that indicates the Crown has ever given up rights to the Crown’s property. Any artifacts that have come from Crown land are subject to Crown ownership, and always have been (ie since 1846 or so in BC). Its delusional to think that you can manipulate the system to your own ends without being in contravention of one or another of numerous statutes in this province.


  6. Jets are cool here now, and I don’t need my profile raised here this was in this blog. I get plenty of web traffic as it is. I just realy don’t appreciate being painted with the same brush as looters or being called an unethical and shady character when I refuse to contribute to illegal looting of any site in BC and when called or contacted by someone wanting to sell artifacts that have been collected recently or illegally I inform them myself of the heritage act and the laws in place and do not purchase those artifacts for resale period. I am on the same page as the rest of you when it come to protecting our Archaeological resources.I am very aware they are a none renewable resource and once these collections are gone that’s it. I will continue to purchase as many of these collections as I can before they are sold off to the hundreds of artifact dealers and auction houses all over North America. Who else is doing that? Most all the dealers I know are just in it for the money. I am NOT! I digitally preserve, catalogue and document only old time collections that were legally obtained prior to 1970 and its not by word of mouth as stated above its with notarized documentation. These image publications can be duplicated if needed for study and preservation. 99.9% of all North-western artifacts I resell were not found in BC. I do have a passion for BC History and Prehistory and do love to see the multitudes of artifact types and styles found in the beautiful province. My personal collection of BC artifacts is made up of many collections from many different sources and individuals over the years and are available for study for almost anyone and always have been. Funny no one ever came knocking on my door to record or study any of them when this extensive effort that was made in BC in the past to document private collections. I have tried in the past to be open and work with all who have an interest in these artifacts and will continue to do so in the future. Anyone wanting to visit or see my personal collection or website inventory is welcome to call and set up a time to see what’s here and if needed for further study would be willing to make it available under the right circumstances. The Marpole beads in question were salvaged on private property during construction of a building and parking lot. There are several different sources of these beads that I can purchase wholesale as many thousands were recovered at that time in the early 1970’s in Marpole. Thanks for the followup BCArchaeologist .


  7. Tony’s website was the subject of a discussion we had at the BC Archaeology forum several years back in Prince George and was detailed in the Midden. He and another collector from the US (what was his name?) were invited to attend, but did not. Tony also threatened lawsuits at that time for disturbing his business. At that time, he also included some disclaimers on his website and I believe removed the artifacts that had Borden Numbers.

    Beyond the claim of ‘looting’, which of course would require a witness, one concern that I recall is the movement of heritage items across the Canadian border – does this occur?

    It was also pointed out at that time, that collecting indigenous artifacts in BC for sale was a systematic pursuit with networks throughout the province. Images come to mind of people bringing blankets to Glenrose cannery site to sit and recover artifacts and people removing all signs of a site (FCR, debitage etc.) in order to protect the location from other looters (and archaeologists).

    Tony was going to make a digital archive of the protected BC artifacts for researchers.

    Tony’s work with BC artifacts should be compared to the work of Bill Byrne (?), now deceased, of Mission, who contributed greatly to archaeology through documenting the location and erosion of sites and artifacts near Stave (an area familiar to readers I am sure), and travelled the Fraser valley with his portable light table, phortographing private collections (these photos are at UBC I believe).

    Anyway, interesting topic that should be considered further…


  8. Correction – not Bill Byrnes, actually Brian and Isabel Byrnes – see here:

    Click to access 02_PRIVATECOLLECTIONS.pdf


  9. Thanks for the post Jim, Its been a long time since we have talked. I would love to help revitalize that program and would do it for nothing in my spare time. Anyone wanting to help and those in charge should contact me if they want my help. I personally know of many outstanding BC collections yet to be recorded mostly because the collectors don’t want to be painted with the dirty paint brush like I just was again or have their collections taken or become the precident setting case in the BC Heritage Act……. Those in charge of Laws and that are collecting information on private collections might want to contact me and get together sometime for further discussions on revitalizing that program and changes that need to be made to stop the current system from continuing to have these artifacts trucked away and destroyed for fear of delays and costs to the private property owners involved Including our government. I am and will continue to collect as many images and information from the collectors that have frequented Glenrose DgRr6 and St Mungo DgRr2 near me here in Delta over the years and would love to publish and show the amazing and fantastic assemblage and quantity of artifacts from the cultures and time periods that have been salvaged from the continual erosion at these 2 sites from tidal surge, heavy shipping traffic and water current changes that took place after the construction of the Alex Fraser bridge many years ago. It is so very sad that the new Highway will destroy and cover a huge portion of these sites when completed before anything more is learned from this very unique resorce and wetsite. Where is the salvage archaeologists now? Why are we not saving as much info as we can before its gone forever? We must look at creating new programs and laws to benefit preservation and stop the loss taking place today. Everyone has a right to learn from the past and the story it holds, not just the academics and the professionals. We really all need to work together and learn from each other. Its time that things change and stop continuing to push collectors underground. (There are hundreds in BC and thousands of them in North America by the way)……..


  10. I remember when I questioned these charaters a couple of years ago on how and where they are getting stuff to sell and told mr hardie he had better not be coming to our territory (victoria) Mr hardie was pretty upset and even threatened to come to Victoria and kick my ass! I got the sam speil you see above oh Iam native etc… its my right. But agreed he even states that he wont buy recent artifacts and even tells the seller of the act, well if we didnt have values and prices on these objects looting wouldnt be going in the present. i would like more debate around this whole issue also flush it out and get the picture of what is exactly happening to our important heritage and objects. By the way mr hardie i still have the email you sent me and read it quite often as it gives me the motivation to check our sites and keep people that profit away from our sites. and as for kicking my ass bring it on….


  11. Ron Sam
    You referencing me to the above post regarding Yakima looting is irrelevant and has nothing to do with me whatsoever as are your comments regarding me. Get your facts straight bud, The of laws today regarding collecting and the protection archaeological sites in BC are causing more artifacts and important sites to be destroyed all the time. This is due to construction, highways, Railways and Dams. Looters are way way down that list. Ethical Collectors are way way down that list if even on it at all in my opinion. None of us will ever be the wiser until the laws are changed and the property owners are treated differently so they will be excited to come forward and allow preservation and not continue to hide and destroy or remove and erase the evidence from the past from the land so so called progress and change can take place without delays and costs to them. There are better ways to deal with this issue for sure!! Its time for a major change in the politics of this issue. Time to wake up and see both sides and get your head out of the sand where it obviously is with this last post you have made about me and this subject.

    PS. BC is my backyard as much as it is yours to enjoy including Victoria which I get to often. Have a great day. Tony


  12. I think this whole thread is ridiculous, pieces are found…..they are picked up and they are given away or sold…..end of story. If a piece is dug during road-building or when a foundation is dug why would anyone report it? The results of reporting a find can ruin a builder, the thought of finding a single artifact will now stop a building site from going forward, do you think they work this way in Europe? They find stuff every day of the week, pick it up and move right along. And natives having a little test dig at a cost of 5 thousand dollars a day before a sight has been touched has stopped at least one building project here on Vancouver Island, mainly because the diggers asked how many slips (on a grandfathered wharf) were going in and when they were told how many they decided they wanted a piece of the action….. or they thought maybe they would find evidence of prior use. Nothing was found…………..the project was shelved.
    Every square foot of Valdes Island has some type of native history or artifact, I didn’t see you over there stopping the loggers from raping the trees and using the landing that was built on a midden……

    Here is what everyone should remember – These pieces DO get found…usually accidently, they end up in collections, and they get enjoyed and usually eventually end up in a box in the dark……….in the basement of the RBCM. ALL because collectors saved them.
    Where do you think the collections at the museum came from?
    I personally know of a frog bowl that was dug on private property in 1939, the family continued to own and enjoy it till the mid 1990’s when some nazis with papers showed up and confiscated it ‘for the good of the public’… think this makes people trust the officious government guys, you think the local band got the piece back? I’ll bet it hasn’t been seen in public since.
    Personally I think you should be spending your time getting the stuff back from England…Germany….France…..Russia…The Smithsonian, Seattle….Berkley……
    not whining about the little guys that repatriate a piece from ebay or buy it off a table at a bottle show or at a garage sale……or buy an established collection.
    If the artifacts are mixed in with bottles in a dump….they will be found, and will be saved, no matter what you say the guys will keep them and usually trade them off.
    There is nothing illegal about picking a piece off the surface and nothing illegal about digging white man trash sites from after 1852.
    Would you rather the ocean wash the piece in and it disappears forever after it falls from the bank due to erosion? Not me, I’d rather know it’s being enjoyed as much now as it was by the original maker.

    How many river middens have washed away and been lost for good because of logging? A lot more than we will ever know about because they are not seen and Never Reported.


  13. Dear j Nulty,

    To my knowledge, artifacts at the RBCM are not kept in a basement but several floors above the ground.

    In Europe ‘things’ are not ‘picked up and moved along’. Rather, they have a much more well funded understanding and acceptance that archaeological research is an absolutely necessary part of construction whereas in BC, the archaeology of First Nations heritage is much less well respected as your comment demonstrates.


  14. This will always be a hot topic no matter what when someone is profiting off of it like you are. I have seen the destruction of sites, I have caught people looking for artifacts at our known sites this is what drives me crazy the disrespect people have to even think of picking something up and calling it theirs. Mr Hardie relax a little and dont be so threatening with your words.


  15. Hot topic or not, I think that what is written above referencing me (in the context of a post on looting) looks and is defamatory, and it is in any case over the top as I am not a looter and never was or will be. Guess I don’t like being painted with that colour of brush and why should I?………….. I just realy don’t appreciate being called an unethical and shady character when I refuse to contribute to illegal looting of any site in BC and when called or contacted by someone wanting to sell artifacts that have been collected recently or illegally I inform them myself of the heritage act and the laws in place and do not purchase those artifacts for resale period. I am on the same page as the rest of you when it comes to protecting our Archaeological resources. I am very aware they are a none renewable resource and once these collections are gone that’s it. I will continue to purchase as many of these collections as I can before they are sold off to the hundreds of artifact dealers and auction houses all over North America. Who else is doing that? Most all the dealers I know are just in it for the money. I am NOT! I digitally preserve, catalogue and document only old time collections that were legally obtained prior to 1970 and its not by word of mouth as stated above its with notarized documentation. I have had an amazing summer in this beautiful provence I call my home and respect it and the people that lived here before me as much or more than anyone. I truly love my BC backyard and the postcard views that surround us everywhere from Haida Gwaii to the Fraser Canyon and Stein River Lytton to the South Coast down here and all around the lower mainland. Wow are we all lucky to live and play here! 😉 Have a great day!


  16. Ron – hi I agree, it is disrespectful to claim ownership and even archaeologists have quite a lot to learn about not treating their profession as a gleeful hunt for goodies.

    J Nutly: actually European nations are generally much more diligent in their archaeological responsibilites than are Canadian governments.

    Tony Hardie – I am curious, what is the process of notarization of a collection? Does someone have a collection from, say, their grandfather, and they write a document to the effect of “my grandfather collected these on his farm in the 1950s” and then a notary stamps this document? Does this have the same legal standing as an affidavit?

    I’m also curious, if anyone knows, what the exact legal standing of private collections is under the Heritage Conservation Act. They do not seem to be covered by Section 19(1), and yet Section 19(2).b follows from 19(1). Section 13.3.c apparently allows the LG to make regulations about exceptions, has one been made? Is this where the alleged grandfathering of collections comes from? Like a lot of recieved wisdom, it isn’t always clear how to trace back to actual law or established policy made with full respect of the legal framework. I don’t see the private collection issue addressed anywhere on the BC government web site, which is quite surprising considering that it must indeed be a “FAQ” people have. well, they do have a very brief section on “reporting finds” which is quite wishy-washy and not legally referenced and doesn’t address the private collection issue.


  17. Richelle Giberson

    Hi there,

    I just wrote to you on a different post. I didn’t realize the post I referenced was yours! I think you’ll find what I have to say interesting. Please send me an email so we can connect.


  18. You can contact me thru my website email regarding the Glenrose and St Mungo sites Richelle.


  19. Yes qmackie I am as well just a care taker for all artifacts that I handle in my short lifetime, and yes the notarized documentation I receive before I purchasing a collection does have the same legal standing as an affidavit in court……


  20. First off, (twoeyes)

    Don’t you dare tell me what I do and do not respect. You don’t know me, or my
    You guys sit around reading and writing in these forums but do not seem to see the way the public thinks… can’t change it. There are many factors involved in this contentious issue, what it boils down to in the end is – finders keepers…..that is the outlook of 98.9 % of the population.

    Anyone that goes looking for the artifacts and digs them is an idiot and needs his ass kicked. But they do get found, it’s not like there is a lack of stone stuff laying on the ground, it’s found daily. Most of these items are not rare by any means.

    I was recently at an ephemera show and a guy walked in the door with a nice nipple top maul, he was going to sell it and that was that, he was there to shop it around. I bought it because I was there, condition was good and I Paid the most.
    He just dug it with a machine….at Cadboro Bay, in his front yard.

    Was I supposed to tell him to take it to the authorities? He would have told me to bugger off. He was there to sell it. I got it, I saved it, I know where it was found.

    I was approached two years ago to sell some dance regalia online because the owner didn’t want the local natives to know she was getting rid of it. I OUTRIGHT refused. End of story. She had every right in the world to own it, she is native and it had been given to her to store in her attic in the 1940’s. She had every right in the world to sell it. I did not want it leaving the province.

    I knew Simon Charlie very well and he Gave me stuff because it was getting ruined in his old sheds, he lost incredible stuff when his carving shed burnt down…..was I supposed to refuse and let the pieces rot in the mud under his old abandoned house?

    In Europe they reward finders that turn items in…..(one way or another)… many detecturists wander every weekend looking for finds, that IS treasure hunting. They don’t shut down sites for years or decades. Read some Ivor Noel Hume books…………if it needs saving now….just do it and salvage what you can and let the owners get on with it.

    Do you know the history of the Capitol Iron dig? Look it up.

    If I didn’t respect the history ..culture and artifacts…yes…and the natives….I certainly wouldn’t reply to or even read this thread.
    I have been saving this stuff in various ways since the early 1970’s.
    I have a friend that worked at the RBCM and he was so disgusted with the storage facilities and lack of ac. numbers on many many thousands of items that he quit and went to a mainland museum.
    I worked restoring a government building in Victoria about 5 years back and found a painted Haida paddle, cardboard box’s of baskets, and box’s of early Victoria bottles….in a root cellar basement with a brick floor and stone walls, dug into the dirt under a post and pad Victorian building….none with ac. numbers, and it certainly wasn’t climate controlled….. it was probably a good thing they were there…..the dampness and dark was more like the smokehouse or shed they would have been kept in 100 years ago.

    UBC is where my items will end up……..because they have an open system and anyone can easily see the item…find out it’s history and where it came from and when, while they are on site.

    Try that in Victoria.


  21. Yes but in what context was it found? how about you contact me before you send it to UBC? Iwill pay you what you paid for it! That is hard for me to say but if you paid money for it I would gladly compensate you for stepping up and saving our maul from Cadboro Bay. Songhees Nation is in the phone book why dont people ever think to phone us? When we know about our items being sold and traded we want to do our best to keep it with our Nation as it is the right thing to do. Its just so easy to off load these items now a days its down right depressing to me, I just dont get it and I dont think I ever will! But I want to do my best to keep what is rightfully ours when found and yes we would share it with the general public and who ever else would be interested. Quentin I dont know if you post contact info on here but please post my email for anyone that may want to contact Songhees and do the right thing. Thanks to all for the debate on this issue as it is needed. Contact me at Thanks,

    Ron Sam
    Songhees Council


    • I will keep your email on file Ron and In future if someone contacts me with a collection that came from your area I would be pleased to send them your way. If there was anything in my personal collection at this time from your area I would be happy to send it your way as well but I don’t believe I have any items from your area. I also must add that if that maul had been available to me say at the FVACC show in New Westminster Queens Park that i display at every year, being that it was recently found in a protected area, I would not have purchased the item and I do believe it may fall under stolen property category under the right circumstances. I also understand both sides of this argument very well. There needs to be radical changes and better ways such as an on line isolated finds program* and changes to the laws and procedures in place today before you will see attitudes change where contractors, collectors, amatures as well as professionals and First Nations all work together for the best interest of preserving the past for everyone to enjoy. jmho


  22. Sorry forgot to ask? I thought Cadboro Bay is a recorded site? (at least the majority of it) So would this not be breaking the law? It seems like it to me. He must have been digging without a permit, he found an object and did not contact the Arch Branch, he removed the object from its context and site, and made money off of his find. Can someone please answer this for me?


  23. Hi Ron,

    Fine with me to have your contact info here.

    I was recently at an ephemera show and a guy walked in the door with a nice nipple top maul, he was going to sell it and that was that, he was there to shop it around. I bought it because I was there, condition was good and I Paid the most.
    He just dug it with a machine….at Cadboro Bay, in his front yard.

    On the face of it, the digging part does sound like a violation of the Heritage Conservation Act Section 13, especially if we consider “just dug it out” to mean “recently dug it out”.

    I am still hoping for clarification myself on whether actual private ownership and sale of artifacts is, or is not, an offence under the HCA. In the case of this handmaul, it would appear to be trafficking in the proceedsof an illegal act, which may or may not itself be illegal. Morally, if not legally, one could think of it as possession of stolen property.

    Yes, there are a number of recorded sites in Cadboro Bay, notably DcRt 13 and 15, but even if the site was not recorded then it cannot be “altered” without a permit and is afforded equal protection under the law.


  24. Thanks for the response Quentin and allowing me to air my concerns on here. Thanks also for the clarification but it is such a grey area its not even funny. I hope you are well and thanks for the awesome blog keep up the good work.


  25. See comments below from Justine Batten, Director of the B.C. Archaeology Branch. Does anyone know the story behind the Archaeology Branch’s dealings with Mr Roloff?

    (PDF version: )

    “PROVINCIAL ARCHAEOLOGY experts aren’t happy with people who traffic in native artifacts.

    The problem, says the director of the provincial archaeology branch, is what people might do in order to acquire the artifacts in the first place.

    Justine Batten’s comments follow questions about the branch’s contact with Howard Roloff, a Duncan-based dealer and expert in native artifacts.

    “We have indicated to Mr. [Howard] Roloff that creating a market for these items does encourage looting of sites,” said Batten in comments provided via email.

    “…. We have strongly advised him to halt such transactions,” she continued.”

    (continues at above links)


  26. The Mother of Indiana Jones
    By Forrest Fenn

    This article appeared in Anthropology News, a monthly newspaper that is mailed to 4,800 subscribers. It was written in response to an article written by Dr. Joe Watkins “Salvaging our Ethics.” (Anthropology News 41:3:26-27) It also appeared in Ohio Archaeologist, Summer, 2000.

    The mass media in this country well know the rules. When an archaeological discovery is made, all but the most compelling stories go to the bottom of the page, making room for what many Americans love most, the sight of an ancient object that gives an exciting hint about their past. How many times have the stories of Mesa Verde and Spiro Mound been told? We always thirst for more.

    For many decades our museums have purchased prehistoric artifacts or had them donated by those with the far vision to know that otherwise our public displays would stand in need. Good examples abound: the Field Museum in Chicago, which houses the original private collection of Marshall Field, and the wonderful collection of pre-Columbian gold and jade objects that was purchased by Ray Diekemper and given to the Texas Tech Museum over the objections of the curator.

    Was the Chicago Art Institute correct in purchasing the most significant Mimbres cave objects ever discovered, a ritual cache of brilliantly colored and feathered snake and mountain lion fetishes and human effigies? Of course they were! The Society of American Archaeology (SAA) hates to see commercial traffic in archaeological material, yet one must ask which is more important – the education of the public or the perceived ethics of the SAA?

    Professional archaeological societies have long looked for easy marks to blame for the escalating interest in collecting artifacts, and their editorials have accused collectors for many of the problems found in their own science. United thinking in the collecting community (collectors outnumber archaeologists by an estimated 250 to one) is that this emphasis is inappropriate. Shadowy excuses mask what everyone knows to be true: it is the written reports and photographs of both artifacts in situ and museum displays that hone the tools of those who would vandalize archaeological sites looking for what they have seen in print or on exhibit.

    The premise is that those looted objects are sold to collectors, which promotes further looting. To a degree that is true, albeit a tertiary reason. Nevertheless, it is our museums that make these items desirable. At arrowhead shows across the country, the sale of books about prehistoric artifacts is second in total sales, surpassed only by that of stone tools. While no collector condones illegal excavations, they all know that logic defies the tenet that prehistoric artifacts should not be privately collected. If museums routinely purchase these items, is it unethical for individuals to do the same? I don’t think so.

    Over 1400 people attended the important “Clovis and Beyond” conference held last October (1999) in Santa Fe. The 62 speakers, selected for being the best in their fields, included two members of the National Academy of Science (NAS), the present President and three past presidents of the SAA, and the heads of anthropology departments in universities and museums across the Americas. When the conference was over, Dr. Joe Watkins, who was also a speaker and Chair of the American Anthropological Association Ethics Committee and member of the SAA Ethics Committee, wrote an editorial in the Anthropology News (March 2000) titled, “Salvaging Our Ethics.” He questioned whether he should have attended the conference at all because it had been put on by me, a collector and avocational archaeologist. He said I had been “accused” of “mining artifacts” in a pre-contact pueblo that I own. For Dr. Watkins, mining artifacts refers to the excavation of an archaeological site by someone without a Ph.D. in archaeology. He asked the question. “How did the collector get involved in the “Clovis and Beyond” conference in the first place?” a question that speaks volumes about where the SAA seems to be headed.

    Since he called me by name, I feel compelled to examine the question. In the organization of the conference, I represented the Museum of New Mexico, Laboratory of Anthropology. Other co-sponsors were the Smithsonian Institution and the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Oregon State University. Maybe Dr. Watkins’ question should be asked a little differently: “Why did the collector feel inclined to originate and organize the meeting?” Where were all of the archaeologists, and why did none of them see the need and step forward?” The last such conference, from which the term “Clovis point” emerged, was held in Santa Fe in 1941. In the ensuing years, giant steps have been made in our knowledge of the peopling of the Americas, knowledge that everyone agreed needed to be presented and discussed. Dr. Watkins seemed to be saying, “We don’t have time to do it, and I don’t want you to either”. I am reminded of the Rolls Royce that pulled up to the Ritz Plaza Hotel, and no one got out.

    Because Dr Watkins listed Indiana University as his academic affiliation for the conference, I thought it would be interesting to look at that school’s archaeological record. Ironically, the archaeology and anthropology departments at Indiana University would not exist were it not for the long-term vision and direct financial support of a single individual, an artifact collector and amateur archaeologist Eli Lilly (Griffin, 1971).

    There was neither an archaeology program nor an anthropology department at any of the colleges or universities in the state of Indiana until Lilly became interested in collecting artifacts (Griffin, 1971), It is important to emphasize that the same is true of many other states as well. While Lilly insisted on anonymity throughout his life, it is now useful to refer to him by name so the reader can understand the exact nature of his contributions and the role he played in the development of American archaeology, a particularly important point because his contributions have been omitted from the formal “History of American Archaeology” (Willey and Sabloff, (1974,1980).

    In the summer of 1930, when Lilly visited the home of J.P. Dolan, a lawyer and artifact collector in Syracuse, Indiana, he was struck by the quality of workmanship of the artifacts that Dolan displayed in his “Indian cabinet” (Griffin, 1971). The sight of Dolan’s collection stimulated Lilly’s innate curiosity and a never-ending passion for artifacts and “digging” archaeology. With the help of Thomas Hendricks, an Indianapolis buyer of antiquities, Lilly began to acquire a personal collection from both various other collectors and his own excavations. He quickly amassed one of the most important collections in the United States. This activity brought him into close association with numerous artifact dealers, fellow collectors, and amateur archaeologists, including Glenn A. Black.

    In 1931, when Black led Lilly on a field trip to Angel Mounds (the largest known Mississippian site in Indiana), Lilly was both impressed with the vastness of the village and cemetery and was struck by Black’s self-taught knowledge and enthusiasm. Although Black never attended college, like Lilly he was well read and had been collecting artifacts for many years. Lilly realized that the only way archaeology was going to advance would be if he funded a full-time person such as Glenn Black to devote all of his efforts to archaeology. Lilly initiated efforts to acquire the title to Angel Mounds. After federal, state, and local governmental sources failed to acquire the site, Eli Lilly provided the funds to purchase it. Black moved into a house on the site and, with funding from Lilly, devoted the rest of his life to excavating it.

    Dr. Watkins’ position is particularly curious in the light of the fact that he is currently seeking the directorship of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Indiana, a position endowed by a collector and untrained excavator.

    The program at Indiana University began when Lilly endowed a fellowship in anthropology in 1932. Black began teaching the archaeology course in 1944, and with many generous donations, a formal department of anthropology was created in 1947. Lilly also funded archaeology laboratories at the University of Chicago and Ohio State University and endowed a fellowship at the University of Michigan. Its first recipient was James B. Griffin, the “dean” of American archaeology. Lilly provided full-time support for Griffin between 1932 and 1941, and continued to fund his research efforts thereafter. It is interesting to note that the lifelong support from this private collector was completely ignored in the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology’s 1997 “Tribute to James B. Griffin.” Griffin would have been the first to admit that he would not have had a career without the support of Eli Lilly, who also funded 11 presidents of the SAA: A.V. Kidder (1937-1939), Will C. Mckern (1940 -1941), Glenn A. Black (1941-1942), Carl E. Guthe (1945 -1946), Frank H.H. Roberts, Jr. (1950 -1951), James B. Griffin (1951-1952), William A. Ritchie (1956 -1957), George I. Quimby (1957-1958), James A. Ford (1963 -1964), Albert C. Spalding (1964 -1965), and Richard “Scotty” MacNeish (1971-1972). Dr. Watkins seems to be saying that these distinguished archaeologists were unethical for associating with and accepting the money and leadership services of a collector – that Eli Lilly’s money was tainted.

    Scotty MacNeish, a participant in the “Clovis and Beyond” conference and the most recent recipient of the SAA’s Fryxell Award, wrote in a letter to James B. Griffin on December 14, 1970, “Mr. Lilly’s interest in archaeology, particularly in the Midwest, and continued support of it were responsible for many, if not most of the advances that were made in that region from the twenties to the seventies. This was not just the direct donating of funds for field excavations and publications, but it was, more importantly, the support and encouragement he gave to so many students and scholars in the field of archaeology” (Griffin 1971).

    Midwestern archaeology has never recovered from the loss of Eli Lilly. Since his death, academic training and employment opportunities in Midwestern archaeology have become limited (Schott, 2000). Lilly provided funding to students and scholars for the scientific study of pottery, stone and copper sources used in the manufacture of artifacts, geophysics, absolute dating, artifact classification, and linguistics. He also sponsored conferences and excavations, and was the underwriter of numerous publications. Many of these publications, including Prehistoric Antiquities of Indiana, featured illustrations of artifacts from his personal collection, some of which he had excavated himself.

    The argument might be made: that was then, this is now. In other words, the days of Eli Lilly are ancient history. But are they?

    Where is the money for archaeology coming from today? In the past decade a number of artifact collectors have supported the positions and research efforts of many contemporary archaeologists including Chris Hill, Robson Bonnichsen, David Meltzer (a mentor of Joe Watkins), Don Fowler, C. Vance Haynes, and George Frison, to name a few. A Colorado collector has donated more than four million dollars for archaeological research to institutions including the University of Wyoming, The George Frison Institute, the Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University, Oregon State University, The Center for the Study of the First Americans, the University of Nevada, and Joe Watkins’ alma mater, Southern Methodist University.

    At the same time, grants from the National Science Foundation for applied research in anthropology have dwindled almost 78% from $2,630,000 in 1973 to $583,000 in 1997 (National Science Foundation/SRS, Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development). Furthermore, these figures do not reflect either the decreasing value of the dollar since 1973 or the fact that most of that money goes for research in anthropology, not archaeology. If, as Dr. Watkins implies, it is unethical to receive support from or co-mingle with artifact collectors, what is left? Maybe the only completely “ethical” refuge is government archaeology and Cultural Resource Management (CRM). But is it?

    Each year, state and federal governments spend millions of taxpayers dollars to survey, excavate, protect, preserve, conserve, and curate the archaeology of the United States. What does the average American citizen get for his money? Most of the results appear as unpublished contract reports written in an oppressive technical jargon that the public cannot decipher. To make matters worse, our nation’s museums are becoming filled with literally hundreds of tons of dirt, fire-cracked rock, bones and broken pottery bits from the CRM and government archaeology.

    In an investigative report conducted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Trimble and Meyers 1991), they found that the status of most physical facilities used to store artifacts and archaeological records from government-funded excavations did not conform to the minimum federal standards for archaeological curation. Many artifacts and paper records were found in substandard facilities scattered on floors, while elsewhere they appeared in cardboard boxes in cluttered storage areas subject to unauthorized entry, leaky roofs, and lacking either fire suppression systems or pest control programs.

    Each year millions of taxpayer dollars are spent to recover artifacts and produce records that are later destroyed or damaged because archaeologists improperly pack, over pack, stack boxes without lids, or place them in areas with excessive levels of humidity, water, or active rodent populations. In these situations, provenience labels and brown, craft paper field bags rapidly deteriorate. In many cases, artifacts and site records not only go unprotected, but also remain uncataloged for decades. The Army Corps of Engineers (Trimble and Meyers 1991) found that the substandard record management at government-funded institutions resulted in the loss of information that impaired the usefulness of artifact collections acquired from CRM.

    I have often wondered why a professional archaeologist who excavates (the site is necessarily destroyed in the process) is viewed with respect while an avocational archaeologist is accused of mining for artifacts. It has been estimated that between 60 and 75 percent of work completed in the field by professional archaeologists is not reported. A comprehensive search for statistics on this problem has revealed nothing. Everyone knows the majority of field work goes unpublished but no one wants to admit it. The archaeological community has really buried that one. And worse, many times the field notes are closely guarded secrets, lest someone else should use the information.

    “Too often archaeologists have failed to match the scale of their efforts in the field with the scale of their publication effort. Archaeology is justified only if the information is later made available to the public” (Sharer and Ashmore 1993:156). “Publication is the ultimate responsibility of all archaeologists and, like all other scientists, their results must be made available to public audiences. This obligation lies at the very heart of professional archaeological responsibility.” (Sharer and Ashmore 1993:599). “Unfortunately, communication to the public is the most neglected aspect of professional archaeology” (Sharer and Ashmore 1993:599). However, in many cases the work completed in the field by avocational archaeologists is reported in local archaeology society journals. So it is legitimate to ask which is worse, a professional who excavates correctly and fails to report the findings, or an amateur whose techniques are less than perfect but reports on his work?

    While everyone is interested in historic preservation, it would appear that some have wandered around the bend. Jon L. Gibson and Joe Sanders, both archaeologists from Louisiana, wrote in the SAA bulletin (vol. 11, no. 5), “We suggest that just because sites happen to be on private property should not make them privately owned. We also maintain that archaeologists must challenge one of American’s most precious rights – the right to do as you please to your own land – if we are going to have any chance of preserving our diminishing heritage.”

    As if that were not embarrassing enough, they went on, “First, we must press for legislation that places an archaeological lien on private property with significant archaeological sites. Second, archaeologists must be the ones to choose which sites are to be protected. We can not entrust this selection to a governmental board or legislated process, which would give land owners the final word on whether a site will be protected.” Now I think I remember what started the French Revolution!

    But that’s not all: “Archaeologists must be more than just stewards of the past. They must serve as the public conscience. They must act on society’s behalf even when society is insensitive or objects.” EVEN IF SOCIETY OBJECTS? Well, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In my faxed response (which was published in a subsequent SAA Bulletin), I pointed out that most Americans would probably agree that private property rights guaranteed under the Constitution related to illegal search and seizure are more important than archaeology and historic preservation combined.

    Where would one suspect that museums get the artifacts that are being displayed? Who are the major supporters and contributors to those institutions: professional archaeologists, the United States Government, or the private collectors? Why is it that collectors are discredited by archaeologists for purchasing artifacts, but celebrated when their collections are donated to an institution? Does that transformation not seem strange and hypocritical?

    So the wedge of discontent is driven ever deeper between archaeologists and the collecting community by ill-thought-out or unfortunate comments published in private-subscription journals. Both Dr. Watkins (a Native American and political archaeologist) who speaks officially for the SAA and publicly preaches the rhetoric of cooperation with all groups, and two Louisiana rogue revolutionaries, who would commandeer the law because they think our elected officials cannot be trusted to do the right thing, are defining new and radical directions.

    While most archaeologists understand that cooperation among all parties is beneficial and productive, there are those who are loud and overly zealous. Extremists seem to be floating to the surface everywhere, collectively revealing the soft underbelly of archaeology. An item that appeared in “The American Committee for Preservation of Archaeological Collections” newsletter, (March 2000), amply illustrates the trend: “It seems a planned and approved exhibit of Clovis projectile points, that was to coincide with the Santa Fe conference last October and be a part of it, was cancelled at the Museum of Fine Arts. A local archaeologist apparently complained that Clovis material should not be exhibited in an art museum, and he persuaded a Native American to claim that Clovis points are sacred and should not be displayed at all. The museum director (Stuart Ashman) folded under the pressure and the exhibit did not take place. (Ed. Note: Clovis points certainly ARE works of art and would make a splendid exhibit in any art museum.”) In canceling the show (titled “Points of View”) meetings were held behind closed doors, and the names of the dissidents remain closely guarded secrets. Ironically, the same museum currently has an exhibition that features “Clovis” points recently knapped by a pueblo Indian.

    As another example of extremism, an archaeologist from the University of New Mexico said he would resign from the SAA because its president was a speaker at the “Clovis and Beyond” conference. He evidently objected to privately owned Clovis materials being displayed at the conference along side those held in the public trust, including collections from the Peabody Museum, The Smithsonian Institution, The Denver Natural History Museum, the University of Texas, and many others.

    Public money for archaeological research is rapidly becoming an endangered species, necessitating an increased dependence on private funding, much of which comes either directly from collectors or is heavily influenced by them. There are things professional archaeologists can do to help themselves. Here is some advice and a few observations from Indiana Jones to the SAA

    1. I am born of you and am nourished by your lectures, your reports, and your beautiful museum displays. Thank you for giving me life.

    2. Leave the jargon at home. Your future depends on increased public interest, and that’s where your future funding will originate. If 14-year-old students don’t understand your report, you’re doing it wrong. And incidentally, color in books is OK.

    3. Stop whining about what amateurs are doing. You have bigger problems at home, like unreported field work, for starters.

    4. Collectors are not going away, and you’re heavily outnumbered. Get used to it and learn from them.

    5. Don’t get carried away with your importance. Private property rights come first, now and always.

    6. If it’s a Canis Latrans bone, give us a break; say it’s part of a coyote.

    7. Your peers already know you’re smart, so write for the rest of us sometime. We’ll buy your book and read it; they probably won’t

    8. Lighten up. It’s not as if dreaded diseases are being cured or famines being prevented by archaeology. You should be enjoying it more.

    Barker, Alex W. 2000 Ethics, E-Commerce, and the Future of the Past. Society for American Archaeology Bulletin 18:1:15.

    Bonnichsen, Robson, Michele Punke, Charmay Allred, Kenneth B. Tankersley, Forrest Fenn, and Mark Mullins 1999 Clovis and Beyond: A Peopling of the Americas Conference, Abstracts, Collections, and Exhibits, Santa Fe.

    Brose David S., William Green, and Mark Seeman 1997 Tribute to James B. Griffin (1905-1997) Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 22:2:125-158.

    Clovis and Beyond conference WebPages

    Fenn, Forrest 1994 Letters to the Editor. Society for American Archaeology Bulletin 12:2:3.

    Fenn, Forrest Personal communication with the archaeologist who received the call.

    Frison, George C. 2000 Progress and Challenges. Scientific American Discovering Archaeology, January/February, pp. 40-42.

    Gibson, Jon L., and Joe Sanders 1993 The Death of the Sixth Ridge at Poverty Point: What Can We Do? Society for American Archaeology Bulletin 11:5:7-9.

    Griffin, James B. 1971 A Commentary on an Unusual Research Program in American Anthropology, in Dedication of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

    Leach, Jeff D. 1999 Clovis and Beyond. Discovering Archaeology, September/October, p. 28.

    Lilly, Eli 1937 Prehistoric Antiquities of Indiana. Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis.
    Museum of New Mexico WebPages.

    National Science Foundation/SRS 1999 Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development.

    Ray, Louis L. 1941 Symposium on Folsom-Yuma Problems. 48:10:234-235.

    Sharer, Robert S., and Wendy Ashmore 1993 Archaeology: Discovering Our Past, Mayfield Publishing, Mountain View.

    Shott, Michael J. 2000 Geographic Emphasis In American Archaeological Practice. Society for American Archaeology 18:2:22-27.

    Society for American Archaeology 2000 Past Presidents of SAA. Program of the 65th Annual Meeting, p.121.

    Trimble, Michael K., and Thomas B. Meyers 1991 Saving the Past From the Future: Archaeological Curation in the St. Louis District. US Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District.

    Watkins, Joe 2000 Salvaging Our Ethics. Anthropology News 41:3:26-27.

    Watkins, Joe, K. Anne Pyburn, and Pam Cressey 2000 Community Relations: What the Practicing Archaeologist Needs to Know to Work Effectively with Local and/or Descendant Communities, in Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Susan J. Bender and George S. Smith, Society for American Archaeology, Washington DC.

    Willey, Gordon R., and Jeremy A. Sabloff 1974 A History of American Archaeology, First Edition, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London.


  27. thought that previous post might be of some interst on this topic……


  28. Hi, If anyone is interested in reading on arrowheadology you will find this information and then you can compare to what tony is doing. (TARL) texas archaeological research lab is selling 80 years of artifacts do to funding and improper storage. they can also use the money for field studies. Also a french museum is selling 7000 artifacts from north america. Does this make tony a criminal?


  29. I am not sure if this blog is active or not, but if anyone in the know is listening, I wonder if a question could be answered:

    Late in 2009, my dad and I were walking along the South Thompson River near Kamloops, and he found a small black arrowhead. I have to admit, that it seemed pretty cool, and it made me quite curious about the history of the region. I had no idea how rare such an item was or if such items were relatively commonplace. My dad told me that he used to enjoy looking for arrowheads as a boy on Okanagan Lake, and that he had found around 15 over a few years. I became curious, and began to walk up and down the riverbanks to see if I could find any more. I had no interest in selling the items, just enjoyed the pursuit and their historic and aesthetic value. Though the prospect of finding more of these was appealing, I was also wary of the fact that such a pursuit might not be legal or at least frowned upon (for example by the indigenous groups of the region). I tried to look up the legislation on the internet; however, the wording seemed to be very ambiguous. I have continued searching over the past few years – finding a few more pieces (most broken), but was never certain if this endeavour was kosher. I have run into some “old timers” who had small collections, and into a fellow from Armstrong while out on the river, and asked each of them if this was legal, and I received conflicting answers from each. I have kind of followed my own guidelines (I never dig, I look exclusively on the surface, I don’t go onto private land and I don’t enter areas where I could cause environmental damage). Primarily, I use the “hobby” as more of an opportunity to spend time with my dad – who is aging and no longer able to golf or fly fish due to an injury. He shares an interest in the history, and as a retired forester, also shares in a respectful approach to the natural environment. In an attempt to get to the bottom of this, I stumbled across this blog, and saw terms like “looter”, “illegal collecting” and “pillaged”. Can someone please clarify if what I am doing is legal? I enjoy the hobby (though I do not find many artifacts), but would hate to know that I was doing was illegal or harmful. Any clarification would be appreciated. Cheers.


  30. yep, its illegal.


  31. Yep it is! Be careful because with the way the law has been written in BC in the Heritage Act a lot of people try and make all surface collectors look like looters and pot hunters and try and charge you under the Heritage Act, even though in my opinion its preserving the past to collect on plowed fields and eroding river banks at low tide. It’s a bad law and it should be revisited and revised! This Province needs an Isolated finds program! You can still collect on private land in most US States and you can buy and sell authentic artifacts as long as they were legally obtained before the act. Don’t worry some day they will put a Highway over the spot you collect on or cover it with Rip Rap Rocks or even put in a Dam in the river and cover the area with the back waters to preserve it, for the future…


  32. Thanks for the quick responses. Clearly, my dad and I will need to find a new hobby. Seems a shame, however, since most of the pieces we found were right in the river bed, and clearly not in their original context. Also, few people are unaware that the Shuswap inhabited the river edges, so I can’t imagine the few pieces that we have found contain profound historical secrets. If they do, however, provided I turn them in to the proper people, have I not helped the discipline? These pieces would have ended up as silt near Vancouver Airport if my dad and I had not picked them out of the river and their secrets would be ground up with them. That said, I am no expert (obviously) and do not want to interfere with archaeologists, nor do I want to break the law, so what should I do with the pieces I have removed? If I turn them in, do I risk being charged? To whom should I turn them over?


  33. I am sure the local Museum might want them but they will likley just end up in a box in the storage in back. They were found out of context so they don’t have much use for them except for display and referance. I don’t think anyone has been charged under the Heritage Act for surface collecting to date but you never know when they will test the Act on someone like yourself…There are many collectors walking that stretch of river on a regular basis, I personaly know of several guys that do it but that does not by any means make it right…


  34. Agreed. Thanks Tony.


  35. DClark
    You can always do the equivalent of what many hunters-turned-naturalists do: keep doing the looking but take only photos – and GPS points — as records of your findings. It is very hard to know in many cases just when an artifact is threatened by erosion and when its going to sit there for unharmed for another 3,000 years; and sometimes those artifacts washed out of context can still show spatial patterning that shows interesting things, if they aren’t moved too far. Or they can lead to discovery of a significant intact deposit nearby. Many really important sites have been discovered over the years by collectors looking. Collectors often look more often and with more intensity and in places where archaeologists haven’t or couldn’t look. Sometimes the professionals just weren’t looking in the ‘unexpected’ place where some of the most significant sites tend to be.

    Anyway, when I find exposed artifacts when I’m not ‘on the job’ with a permit, I will take a photo or three, with my cell phone if I don’t have a better camera, and take a GPS waypoint (again, with the phone if I don’t have a full-feature GPS with me). Sorry collectors, but I will usually then ‘camouflage’ the artifact so it isn’t picked up by someone else. Its still fun to find the artifacts, I still have a ‘collection’ but a virtual one, I can show the photos to another archaeologist and if they want to check it out properly, they can find the right spot easily. And, its got no chance of charges being laid. You can research the artifact style further if so inclined and it can lead you to all sorts of new knowledge. You just have to give up the sense of ‘ownership’ and any possible monetary gain.


  36. Morley,

    Outstanding! That is what we will do. Should I document the info and inform an archaeologist at our local university? As for my in / out of context comment – like I said, I am not an expert (or even close) so I am sure there is lots I would overlook as to the potential importance of any piece regardless of where nature has taken it. Appreciate the idea.


  37. Morley I will pass this idea to those who contact me in the future as well. Thanks for the follow up post.


  38. Hello from Eastern Washington State. I see looting/ pot hunting/acquisitions by “legitimate” individuals are as heated in Canada as they are here.
    Saying that CRM teams dig up and destroy more artifacts than all looters combined is nothing more than an excuse. I am not disagreeing that dams, roads, wind farms, etc. destroy an untold amount sites and artifacts and that museums are not always as good about verifying providence and caring for artifacts as they should be but trying to rationalize one own bad behavior by pointing the finger at others does not correct the damage done.
    Looting here is a major problem and because the law allows old collections and finds to be sold or traded things can become very complicated. Just how does someone prove the artifact was dug or found 50 years ago and not last week? A notarized affidavit? The reality is it about as valuable as the paper is it written on. Anyone can become a notary and type up a letter from granddaddy saying he found the artifacts in his front yard way back when he was just knee high to a grasshopper. Once that is done the artifacts are good to go…literally.
    The other problem is enforcement. As an example Utah State in the later 90’s had a huge ring of looters and dealers in the Blanding area. Undercover agents tracked and arrested several prominent members of the community (many of which had been caught but released for looting before.) Sadly the looters received only a slap on the hand ($500.00 fine and commuted sentencing) and required to return what they had stock piled (hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of looted artifacts.) The conservative state representatives of Utah said that the families of Blanding had looted and pot hunted for generations and it was a family tradition and source of fine weekend entertainment. They felt that to actually set an example to other looters by throwing the book at the offending individuals would just not be right!! One has to wonder if those same Mormon conservatives would have felt the same about reviving the old time tradition of running Mormon families out of town.
    We as a nation have never treated the Native Americans with respect and the atrocities done to them (and still being done) are swept under the rug. By allowing thieves like the ones in Blanding to get away with such abhorrent acts we are still saying to the Native Americans we think their artifact are worth more than the feeling of the living.
    The US had many outlets like the one in question in this blog and as disgusting as I think it is I fear they will continue on until we elect representatives that can differentiate right from wrong. Sadly I do not see that happening any time soon. Here in the US dealing in illegally acquired artifacts run just behind illegal drug sales and illegal firearms sales. We have a lot to be ashamed of and until we can clean up our own backyard we need to stop trying to make others clean up theirs.


    • Just for the record, the informant for the government has since Killed himself as he was fabricating evidence and entrapping several people when tiring to get himself out of tax evasion charges held over him, by going undercover for the feds. Yes there were a few bad eggs that deseved to get caught in this sting. I personaly am very glad thety did get caught. There were othe suicides as well! There is a lot more to this story that has not been posted here so don’t draw any conclusions from this small thread. ATADA has some very good info on the subject as well. Read up on it its very interesting if you want to learn more about this very interesting case that is setting some pretty major presidents. Another good case to reference would be the “Operation Bring’em Back” in central Oregon against Milles Simpson of Bend, Oregon. Now, regarding the buying of legally obtained collections, I do a lot more than just get notarized documentation on the old timer collections I purchase and document. I Do check into the people I buy from and investigate their claims and provenience thoroughly and make absolutely sure the artifacts were legally obtained to the best of my knowledge each and every time. I deal primarily with seniors that have spent a lifetime collecting thru the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s, when and where it was legal to do so. There are many very good ways of doing this kind of research in this modern age. To many to go into detail here on this blog. I do not deal with Meth heads, crooks, liars or people that buy artifacts and want to resell them to others at all. To be totally honest, most are quite elderly with many medical bills now adding up and need to sell their collections to help pay those bills. Most could not even go collecting or digging at this stage of their life. There are many great memories and good times associated with these artifact hunting trips & family outings from the past and I help to preserve not only the collections via documentation of them but also preserve many of those memories for them when they receive the photo book at no cost to them after the sale. These books will be a great resource on the artifacts that were surface collected in the entire Pacific Northwest over the years for all to learn from who want to study this material and the areas it had been collected. There was a need for this to be done as 99.9% of the dealers down south do not bother to record or document these collections intact and complete before reselling them to the thousands of collectors all over the world. I have even been referred to legitimate legal collectors wanting to sell their items from Government BLM agents. Please stop painting everyone with the same brush it just does not have any place in the modern world. It’s as bad as racism on a different scale. Those that truly want illegal trafficking in artifacts to stop need to start working together with the good guys as we want it to stop even more than a lot of you! It gives me a bad name and put my character on the line in blogs like this one. Please get your facts straight before running anyone else’s name thru the mud whether it be a Artifact collector or Artifact dealer. Most are very honest good law abiding people.


  39. Pingback: The Other Side of the Antiquities Trade | Doug's Archaeology

  40. michael plecki

    I am a 14 year old in mind and in spirit. After reading the 8 rules of Forrest Fenn, on how to improve the archaeological relations with normal poeople, I believe Forrest Fenn to be absolutley right. I for one have learned and seen more recovered artifacts through the Fenn collection in his books than I have seen elsewhere and I thank him for that. The pro’s are not digging for truth, but for the pleasure of their name’s on the credits in a book. Do it right folks and leave the jargon at home. There is something there for everybody to learn from. It isn’t for your eyes only. This IS how it’s seen by us common folks. To the pro’s, write a book and call it “Digging for Dummies” or “Mummy’s”. Keep it simple and leave my backyard for me. You’ll get more respect and funds that way. And as Mr. Fenn said,”you’re not digging for a cure” so just relax and read read a good book, maybe one by Forrest Fenn.


    • “The pro’s are not digging for truth, but for the pleasure of their name’s on the credits in a book.”

      Excuse me. Are you saying that you would consider it a pleasure to see your name in a book? Archaeologists really do dig just for the information. Writing the reports is not a pleasure—its a GDF pain in the ass, and the people who do it have had their names in print for so long that any pleasure they might once have associated with it wore off long ago. Been there. Done that. Sweated ’til dawn doing it. “Well ain’t you archaeologists in it for the artifacts just like us?” No. The stuff we find in 99 percent of our 2-meter squares would be called “shit not worth having” by most collectors. Fancy artifacts are found only rarely, but we get a lot of information out of those little pieces of “shit not worth having” that were collected in context. And one more thing. You rarely catch an archaeologist drooling over any kind of artifact. Why is that? Man!!! You may have a job in an office or down at the mechanic shop. I don’t know. However, I do know this. If you had to look at and analyze artifacts all day long—sometimes until 3:00 a.m. and do it every work day for 50 weeks per year for years on end, you would be just as jaded and uncaring about an “artifact just for the artifact’s sake alone” as we are. There have been days when I thought I might puke if I had to look at another quartz-tempered pottery sherd or charred hickory nut. I mean really, dizzy-headed puke!!!

      But I have something to say to both sides of the debate here—even though it is 5 years old. I think both sides were talking past each other half the time instead of to each other. I think both sides are so suspicious of the other side that when the truth is stated (and it really is true), that truth is assumed to be a lie or a distortion of the truth simply because of the mutual mistrust. Both sides have a lot of bullshit propaganda they put out about the other side. The biggest piece of bullshit propaganda put out by professional archaeologists is that “all artifact collectors collect only because of the monetary value of the artifacts.” That may be true for a very small handful, but you cannot reasonably use that handful as a broad brush to paint all artifact collectors as money-crazed demons. The biggest piece of bullshit propaganda that artifact collectors put out is the old saying that: “The archaeologists are all just like us—they are in it for the artifacts alone and nothing else—and they just want to stop us so they can get to the artifacts first.” Both sides are almost totally out of touch with each other as “whole groups” and live out their lives on pithy anecdotes about each other rather than any real and comprehensive research about each other. I’ll be honest. As I was reading the comments above, I wanted to smack every GDF one of you on the face. It was so typical and so pathetic on both sides of the fence.

      Have you professional archaeologists and artifact collectors ever thought about getting to know each other—I mean really getting to know each other in the research sense rather than the anecdotal sense—outside each of your little boxes filled with bullshit, anger, prejudice, mistrust, hatred, pithy anecdotes, broad brushes, inaccurate assumptions, false information, distortions of reality—the list goes on and on. There was a time in the United States and Canada when professional archaeologists and artifact collectors collaborated to advance research. That was more than 50 years ago. Have you ever thought—both sides here—that it might finally be time after 50+ years of spin-your-wheels bickering and getting nowhere to recognize your own side’s bullshit and sit down, talk, and really get to know the other side and see whether you actually have many things in common that could lead to collaboration again—collaboration that would advance our archaeological knowledge of North America?

      I am doing some research that may be able to contribute to doing that, and i am using a newly launched blog to do it. Please go to the following blog, read the Main Page and the About page. Consider participation in the on-line discussion, which may last about 3 years or until we are done. This blog and its purpose is anticipated to be announced in the November 2015 Society for American Archaeology Newsletter and an announcement and requests for participation are being sent out to artifact collector organizations and some individual artifact collectors across the nation. Your participation on the blog is vitally needed and kindly requested. Participation means: “You write stuff on the blog.” The link to the blog is here:

      I apologize for getting so tough with you all above, but i get so tired of seeing all this bickering from both sides of the fence, especially when it is suffused with so much anger, prejudice, propaganda, etc.


      • Good luck with your new Blog. It would be nice if everyone could work together. I have always tried to share and preserve in a way that it was ethical and possible for me to do so. I would be happy to work with all sides and always have. I have taken my collecting and hobby to a whole new rewarding level with my New BC artifacts Museum Tours in BC Schools.


      • Darren Clark

        First, let me start by basically guaranteeing you that I am the least knowledgable person on this string. I am merely a person who had a keen interest in the beauty and nostalgia associated with finding a piece that had possibly not been handled by humans in centuries, but wanted to ensure that I was neither breaking any laws nor compromising research in my pursuits. Finding out that I was breaking laws, and could be compromising research led me to stop altogether. Though good suggestions were made to simply photograph pieces located, I chose to abandon my searches. Part of the allure for me was the idea of being able to show and share some local history with others (including the students that I teach). I haven’t the knowledge to contribute substantially to the debate, though I do agree that is seems like an “us against them” type of conflict. My opinion, is that all people on this string share at least one thing in common – an interest in history. As you said, I am sure archaeologists look at many artifacts as just another piece, and have had the excitement taken out of the search based on the repetition and monotony of what is ultimately a job rather than a hobby. With that said, there must have been an initial interest / passion that led these professionals into that line of work. On the other side, “collectors” obviously have some interest in the history and stories behind the pieces they find – or I think they would likely collect something else. To those who say most collectors are in it for the money, I would tend to doubt it, since I can think of hundreds of more lucrative endeavours with larger markets than artifact sales. I think your idea of having both “sides” working together is very logical, but wonder if the scars might run too deep to bridge the gaps caused by accusations and mistrust. Yours is an interesting point of view on an interesting topic.


        PS – Just my opinion, but the unnecessary strong language in your post detracts from, rather than strengthens an argument that I feel contains much merit.


  41. I’m with you on leaving the jargon at home. And relaxing. But at the same time, there’s only one archaeological record so digging for fun or profit is in my view a lesser value than conservation for the future, or digging for the kinds of knowledge that only careful attention to layering and lesser or more subtle finds like flakes, bones, ash, fire cracked rock, etc. can provide.


  42. I agree Michael and Q….