I like hanging around junk shops as much as anyone, in fact more than most, if my new Monkey-Darwin-Skull office lamp is anything to go by. Very occasionally will I see a local archaeological artifact in one of these shops. However, my colleague at my day job (yes I have a job, honest), Dr. Brian Thom, sent me some pictures and an account of his encounter with a very large collection of Coast Salish artifacts. And they’re for sale.
Now, Brian may have the most magnificent Star Trek memorabilia collection to sit squarely atop the 49th parallel, but no sites were harmed in his collecting behaviour. The law around the ownership and sale of ancient artifacts in B.C. is regrettably unclear (as was hashed out in the fractious comments of this previous blog post and here too: 1, 2, 3). As I note lower down, below Brian’s comments, some of the clearest direction on this front comes not from the Act, but from recent public statements from BC Archaeology Branch director Justine Batten. It’s always tempting to write some huge essay when I’m trying to figure something out, but it’d be better to let Brian kick things off. His commentary and links are below, reproduced with his permission.
“I would not doubt the owners claim that Granny and Grumpa’s is the largest antique store in British Columbia. Driving through the Fraser Valley farm roads to 37936 Wells Line Road just outside Abbotsford, you come to a constellation of colourfully decorated barns and out-buildings [here, in Street View https://goo.gl/maps/4KFkS]. Grumpa, a fellow in his 80s, greets visitors personally before sending you to wander, literally for hours, through his incredibly dense collection of antiques and collectibles. The entire history of Canada is represented in these buildings, from horse drawn carriages to farm implements, fishing tackle and forestry safety gear, dolls to china cups, bottles and bibles, and many many parts of our agricultural settler material culture. Part of the local Tourism Board’s Circle Farm Tour [LINK] and blogged about by funkyjunkinteriors.net [LINK] and others, this place has treasures for anyone who comes in. There are no prices on anything, but everything is for sale. Talk to Grumpy to make an an offer, cash and carry.
“In the best-organized and well apportioned of the buildings are three glass cases. Inside is a huge collection of stone, bone and antler artifacts from a time long pre-dating the agricultural settlement. [see photos here https://goo.gl/photos/PJ1Hr2n5v4utgBE17]. Projectile points of every description, adzes, sinker stones, incised mallet stones, hand mauls, unilaterally barbed harpoon tips, even a zoomorphic stone bowl are in these cases of hundred of archaeological objects. Clearly many of the artifacts are familiar from local materials, styles and technologies. The farm is only 1500m from the Sumas First Nation’s reserve land, and is near the edge of the former Sumas Lake. Of course, not everything in the warehouse store of antiques are from Grumpy’s personal collection, so some almost certainly come from elsewhere (and indeed a few look to be more recent fabrications).
“Grumpy and his wife had to leave for a funeral before I could speak with them about the collection. How much would these sell for and to who, is a conversation needed to be had. Clearly though, in spite of our (ambiguous) legislation and dialogues about respectful repatriation, there continues to be a market place for archaeologically acquired artifacts in British Columbia.”
Back to me now. I’ll just put it simply: I don’t think it is right to offer these artifacts for sale. it encourages a market in these items, which encourages looting. The artifacts arguably belong legally to the Crown, and morally to the First Nations. A number of the artifacts pictured here very likely come from graves.
It’s not clear to me on what basis this trade is tolerated. As I noted above, we can turn to some recent comments from Justine Batten regarding other cases. For example, in the 2010 case (PDF) of a Duncan-area artifact dealer:
Provincial archaeology experts [in British Columbia, Canada] 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.
The sites referred to by Batten are locations protected through the province’s Heritage Conservation Act or from burial sites.“While a sale per se is not illegal it is contrary to the legislation to remove heritage objects from heritage sites postdating 1846 or from burial places,” says Batten. “It is also a breach of the legislation to remove from BC heritage objects so protected.”
Batten clearly asserts that “a sale per se is not illegal” yet continues that it is “contrary to the legislation”. She’s a lawyer, so I assume this makes legal sense.
The second comments on the record stem from a few years ago when a CBC reality show attempted to sell a seated human figure bowl (in the end, the stone bowl was not featured on the show). In response to this controversy, a ministry spokesman said (PDF),
“The archeology branch is concerned that offering such items for sale, and attaching a monetary value to them, will promote illegal collection of artifacts and illegal excavations in protected archeological sites,” said a ministry spokesman. “We are therefore respectfully requesting that this item not be offered at auction.” [emphasis added].
So, merely “requesting”, suggesting their power is neutered. Batten is directly quoted further in the article,
“Branch director Justine Batten said the timelines associated with the bowl — found before the act was put in place [1996? – ed.] — limit what can be done. “The province’s only option would be to designate the bowl as a provincial heritage object, which would preclude the object from leaving the province but not from being sold. However, this artifact is not considered a good candidate for designation because the owners are unwilling.” [emphasis added]
So my reading of all this is that, while it is illegal to remove artifacts from sites (it “alters” the sites), if you did this long enough ago, then regardless of the fact you may be de facto in possession of stolen property, you are free to sell it, but respectfully discouraged from doing so. The government could designate your object, but would prefer it if you are willing to go along with that procedure. Is this right? I don’t see anything in the Act which supports or contradicts this position, and it’s my best summary of ministry statements. But then, that’s what lawyers are for, not mere pyjama-clad bloggers guzzling Malbec.
Anyway, I know there are knowledgeable people out there reading this who can set me straight on whether Grumpy is legally cool to sell his collection. Fill me in in the comments below.
You have documented that the legal situation is not at all clear.
I think that if it were clear that this was legal (or should we say, “not illegal”), it would be a lousy idea to bring such clarity to these pages, or anywhere else for that matter, as we can be certain that there is not be the political will to make a statutory change to fix such problems. Other serious holes in the legislation that you have highlighted over the years would have been closed by now had there been such a will at the ministerial level.
The best guide I could find was the words of Justine Batten, which are “usefully ambiguous”, as they say. As with many laws, they really only gain meaning through being tested in court, and we’ve seen a few blows to the Act recently on that front.
it goes without saying (or does it?) that this kind of collecting and sale is wrong for a whole spectrum of reasons, of which the legal is only one.
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…and, there’s another level of concern in the Southwest U.S. that has been “discussed” in several articles. That is, that artifacts are being taken from undocumented sites and sold to support some folks drug habit; apparently “meth” being the primary driver. So we rob irreplaceable artifacts from one culture to support the illegal behavior of this one. I’m certainly not suggesting that Grumpa and Gramma are among those involved with that motive, but their freedom to sell without restriction or control certainly calls into question the acquisition process(es) that brought these artifacts to light. As long as Canadian laws permit this trade cultural sites will be in jeopardy. As with too many things in our time…it’s all about money!
The entire piece written about the antique business reflects the crazy logic that has evolved about things out of the ground. The first part speaks about ,how to purchase the collectilon, then rambles on about,how money contaminates artifacts.
Truthfully most of the objects held in collections, private or government are never going back to the people who live in proximaty to the discovery. They were purchased by pot hunters, anthropologists, museum explorers, to dazzle and entertain the public, come see what we have, come visit and see what we have assembled
The antiquities market has been entered into by government, they are not all that good at it, and what they collect will be organized, categorized ,and displayed as a come on for their purpose.
These are echoes of times past, to leave things in the ground that are curious is not in human nature, because the process of removal is measured and casual as to the time taken to remove themby professionals the eventual result is that they are pushed back into some shelf or drawer, belonging to a dark hiding place, only a bit more accessible than when they were in the ground.
These things you find, excite you, they foster all sorts of ideas, but they get buried by you in some sink hole of history, and except for subtle writing amongst ourselves, are not really adding any understanding to how life was lived before sickness, electricity and metal everywhere.
Enjoy your superiority, you have earned it, just try to understand that a collection is just that, someone in time accumulating things that to them seem to have things in common
Thank you for a thoughtful, insightful commentary. One can only hope the Province will amend the legislation to clarify this issue. And, that they will work together with the appropriate First Nations to obtain this collection. A shame the context has been lost, but who knows, maybe there is some documentation.
In the USA most Federal and State laws do not protect artifacts removed from private lands. Many artifacts are found where they have been plowed up, washed out or exposed by water or wind erosion , or exposed by construction or road building. The sale of most artifacts recovered in this manner is usually legal but not morally acceptable. If a farmer or individual wants to do the right thing well what is it. These items once they are plowed or eroded out of a site have little archaeological value except to provide info the existence of an archaeological site. I have notified archaeology Departments, State and county archeologist of the existence of what I felt were important sites and I have always been politely ignored. The same with tribal and Federal governments. Without a PHD no one wants to hear from you. I am too old to care but the USA is covered with sites of Native Americans.
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If collecting is Illegal then it should be across the board. Meaning private or government or university or museum. These items are of human interest and should be allowed to be admired and observed by anyone who likes them, and not everyone does. Just because you have a PHD does not make you an expert it just means you read some books and past some tests successfully. I know of archeologists with better private collections than the Universities or Museums they work for.
Stones and old animal bones should not be a moral issue or a money issue. People collect all kinds of items because they like them and they take care of said items sometimes as well or better than museums do.
Grave robbing and site robbing (digging) should be the illegal issue. Finding an arrowhead on the beach or in a field should not be an issue.
Is it better to let the arrowhead or bowl or club get destroyed by nature or a plow and be lost forever or should it be taken home buy someone who would take care of it and pass it on?
I think there is too much attention given to a problem that in 99% of cases is not there. Most collectors are not thieves or grave robbers they are people just the same as the people that run museums and Universities who given the chance buy the same items from the same sellers, 99% of whom are not druggies looking for a fix, as has been suggested.
One thing that has been lost in history seems to be the fact that the original collectors hired people to go out and find items of interest and ended up funding many digs. The people doing the dig (grave robbing) became the original archeologists who in turn discovered things about the original people that had been lost in time and therein helping the ancestors learn more about their own culture and history.
I just think it is morally wrong to vilify the collector who in some cases know more about the items and the history than the archeologists do and it is also wrong that archeologists put themselves on a moral higher ground than other people just because the have a PHD and licence to defile and pillage sites to collect for the Universities and Museums.
This is all of course just my opinion and will indeed mean absolutely nothing to some one with an archeological PHD, Museum or University as I am not part of that click.
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Very well said Grant!
I visited Granny and Grumpa today, for the first time. Regarding the artifacts, Grumpa told me that they are NOT for sale. He also stated that most of them had been found when plowed up in his fields. He owns over 400 acres, so it would stand to reason that in his many years of farming, many artifacts would be found.
It doesn’t seem that Granny and Grumpa are your standard merchants. It appears that they enjoy the company more than the money. Grumpa took great interest in showing my 10 year old son around. I believe that they view this more as a museum (of their lives) than a store. I’m sure there are unscrupulous artifact merchants, but I don’t think Granny and Grumpa are examples of such.
There are billions of artifacts that have been uncovered, what should we do with them all? Should every single roman coin or native american arrowhead be rounded up and kept in museum basements?
One consideration for the ethical thing to do with artifacts is that archaeological practices should probably be halted, as who is to say ancient first nations would approve of archaeologists systematically digging around their territories, possibly removing artifacts which were intended to lay in the ground for eternity. I agree that these studies are worthwhile and give us a better understanding of the past, but do not ignore the possibility that archaeological studies may violate (in a significant way) the beliefs of ancient people who can no longer voice their opinions.
You endorse great museum collections on this website, some of which were created by robbery or deceit around the turn of the 19th century and hastened the damage of northwest coast cultures, these are much worse culprits than the non professional who finds an arrowhead in a plowed field. The idea that ancient artifacts should solely be in the hands of academic institutions is very problematic. I do not enjoy seeing potentially grave robbed goods being auctioned to sellers across the globe, but let’s not try and demonize private “collectors” (which vary from people collecting odds and ends found on the beach to millionaires buying sacred artifacts) when public institutions arguably have the worst history of cultural destruction.
This particular issue is vast and very complicated, with no obvious resolutions, I hate the idea of buying and selling cultural heritage for profit, but the idea that artifacts should only exist in institutional settings is a sad one for me. I admire your concerns Dr. Mackie and agree with you on some points, but I also feel that you paint a picture that is too simple and overlook many sides of this complicated issue.
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Logically’ there should be a legal trade’ it is the best way to preserve items discovered.. so much is destroyed at excavation sites’ often a deep hole will be dug and the items found are stuffed in those holes then buried’ covered over’ gone for ever’ items people find on the rivers or lakes often are hurled further out into the water’ .. gone’ most likely for ever’ what a stupid waste’ … where as if people felt free to collect’ or take the find to a collector who would be only to glad to acquire and put it on display… Be it a museum , or an appreciative collector that has a passion for preserving such items.
I think that would be called common sense. But as they say there is not much common in common sense.
So wonderfully put.. Yes’ for sure’ … some one capable of using logic’ … Thank-you’ Grant’ …
I want to state that I agree with the idea that humans have the right to preserve their past and to protect any sacred sights that a culture deems sacred. This should be across the board that no one, not even the culture themselves should be able to disturb the sight if it is deemed to be truly sacred. I also agree that digging up sites, if you rally need to do it, of any kind should be done by people of studies to learn and to inform others but plowed fields and riverbanks are constantly changing and eroding and bringing up new items from the past and will do so for many years to come. Are farmers, fathers, mothers, children and weekend campers really a threat to the scholars and cultures of our society? Those are people who have interest in collecting and finding the past on a plowed fields or riverbanks. I doubt that a meth addict would have the fortitude or interest in spending hours looking for rocks.
I always wonder why it is only some heritage items that fall into this political trap. Why is it that Roman coins, Old Swords and 8000 year old Stone Danish daggers and my great grandfathers old Henry Riffle and bowie knife and pocket watch and many many many other items of historical value seem to be OK but other items such as native arrowheads and other such items are not. This seems to be a pick and choose issue not a moral issue. Druggies, as suggested in earlier articles, are the big reason for the selling to collectors (that in itself is odd and offensive because I have seen museums buy from collectors without question of any drug dealings associated with the collection, they seemed happy just to get them).
Are these items not all made by the human race? are we not all one species on this planet? are we not all entitled to the same standards of equality and freedoms? It seems that some of use feel that our position on morality is above the rest and wish to view their rights as more important than other’s. That in itself I find morally offensive.
If there was no money interest in these items would they still be in the ground or would peoples curiosity still want to admire, share, study, collect and protect them? Would drugs and meth addicts be in the equation? Would collectors be accused of what amounts to drug trafficking or aiding meth addicts to get a fix? We know enough about the past with all the items found do we not? Do the people involved in so called legal digs really think that the holly grail of artifacts is really that important to Human evolution or understanding? Is the past really all that important that we need one more artifact to gaze at in a museum or university. Most of those items never see the light of day and are stored away. Why would public interest in the past and artifacts be of such great controversy.
This issue appears, to an outsider at least, more of a I want and you cant have problem. I have a right and you do not. It is morally wrong but I need it for my museum or studies so I am not morally obligated to justify my need to have it but all others are. are these really the issues or are they just children fighting over toys?
We are talking about rocks are we not? Just because someone picks up a rock and creates something from it that should not make a moral issue, it is still a rock. It may be a piece of art or a weapon but it is still a rock. If my ancestors made steal swords and guns and artwork does that make all steal weapons or art morally mine and wrong to collect for others who are not from my ancestry?
Digging a defiling sacred ground is wrong in many ways, legally or not it is the same desecration. This should not be a fight or a clash this should be a thank you for preserving the past in anyway you can for our children to see and share and study and admire, no mater who you are or what color or race you are. Again this is my personal view and will mean nothing to some who read this.
We are all on this planet together. There are a lot more important issues than who is allowed to keep a rock.
Exactly true’ Grant’ what a brilliant’ overview’.. all logical,, its nice to see that at least some’ still have the ability to use their common senses …
“We are talking about rocks are we not?”
Nope, we are talking about people and places, how people lived in the past – the material items which are the focus of illegal collection are pieces of a puzzle which can take years to see through careful scientific inquiry. If recovered properly, a stone tool may be analyzed for residue which can show what animal was butchered or tree/plant processed. Associated organics can be dated to provide accurate temporal context. Footprints may be found nearby if carefully excavated. All these small clues are combined through the practice of archaeology to tell a story, likely one would that would be appreciated if seen or read by illegal collectors (I assume?).
It would appear to me that collectors fetishize upon a tiny portion of the material culture of the past in ignorance, like taking shiny keys to put on a mantle and never seeing the doorway. This may be excused for a child or someone who finds something ‘cool’ and takes it home in ignorance, not knowing that it just eroded from an ancient burial and should have been left with the owner. Perhaps such a find may inspire someone to learn where the doors are and become an archaeologist or some other expert. But systematic collection for selling such items takes this one step further to commodify the past for the benefit of the individual, not any culture, society or discipline, and is simply wrong.
I agree with you on all points except that anyone I know who collects either buys old collections from farmers or collectors who are past and the family doesn’t want them or they find the odd item in a plowed field or a riverbank. I do not know personally of any collector that actually goes out and spends hours or days digging in the ground or disturbing any sites. It is just not productive.
Does, in anyone’s opinion, an old collection have any archeological merret? Or do the museum’s and universities just want to be the only collectors?
It would be nice if these private collections could be seen as a chance for anyone to study and admire weather you are a professional or a novice. Again my opinion but I can’t see why there is such a haitred for collections that are not in a museum. Why can’t the professional group just invite private collections to be part of their studies?
I understand that there may be the odd gold digger looking to make a quick buck but most of those people destroying your sites are not known to most collectors and most collectors would not want any dealings with them especially if they are meth addicts as suggested so may times in this ongoing discussion. Artifacts from old collections and plowed fields and river banks I do not think would fall into the senerio you wrote in your post. My person opinion. Not ment to offend anyone.
We are coming closer to agreement. Archaeologists have and do work closely with local collectors to determine site locations and approx. ages, etc., and to have collections added to local and regional synthesis, put in museums so they can be studied by students. While not perfect contextually, surface finds are still important and should be documented accordingly, so any collection without proper documentation may be considered a mix of items from differing sites and likely not worth including in most serious studies. I agree that a bridge needs to be built between the archaeological elite and collecting (for non-profit) community, perhaps provide some recording standards for surface finds. Ultimately, many of the items could be photographed and GPS mapped, brought to a local repository… I still do not understand why someone would want to keep and curate all that stuff?? But again, I did not get into archaeology for the material culture (as awesome as it is) and always look froward to sending the artifacts to the proper repository for long term storage. ON the addict front, we have encountered individuals who relate that collecting has been an addiction and they wish they could stop, having many hundreds or thousands of items in their homes (hoarding) with no real space for more, or no plan on how to ensure the items are properly cared for after their death. Thanks for this discussion..
Thanks Jim and Leonard,
I am not apposed to any sensible solution that would make all parties happy.
I like the history of items and having private or public collections is to me all good if you are able to take care of them properly. I think educating the public private collectors instead of vilifying them would be a better approach. I really think most true collectors are not interested in the monetary value they are just people very drawn to and interested in the study of artifacts. I do agree that most collectors are not interested in more than the item itself and do not either know of or see beyond the artifact. This is where I think educating the collectors on what would be important to the archeological field and study would be a benefit. Most collectors now feel they have to hide in the shadows or they will be persecuted about having the desire and curiosity to want to temporarily own a piece of the past. This is a strong passion for most collectors and as I said the true collector is not interested in the money aspect of this dilemma.
The coming together of all parties with out fear of judgment or loss of their items, that they really are fond of and most are so wanting to share with others, would be a great benefit I feel to the further study and knowledge base for all who have a shared interest.
I have talked to archeologists and some want the private collections stopped and some are in favor of the shared knowledge base to further their own studies.
I don’t know if there will ever be a solution but most collectors would jump at the chance to share their collections and what they feel is a knowledge they have of their particular area of interest.
I truly believe that most true collectors would love to be able to learn more from the experts and would gladly share and cooperate fully with them if only given a chance and an open handshake of true mutual interest.
Again this is only my opinion.
As Jim said “Thanks for this discussion..”
I really hope that a mutual and polite solution can be figured out.
That statement in its overall does not make sense’ .. I can see that to be so for items that have been unearthed by excavation be it preparing land for commercial reasons or the constructing of houses and such’ etc etc’ but certainly not for items that have been awash in a body of water for God knows how long.. items that have been washed up on a beach and laying there for only short period of time before they are washed away again, or Items that have been freed by on-going natural erosion for that matter’.. any find should be considered significant and worthwhile preserving’ and as with any piece of intrigue’ it should be entrusted with people who have a passion and appreciation for these items enough to house and proudly display them for others to enjoy… … again’ it is the most logical method of preservation…
There is enough of the past to go around for everyone so why squabble?
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My name is Mathilde Goupil and I am a French journalist working for franceinfo, one of the main news website in France.
I am currently working on a story about the last excavations on Triquet Island where an 14 000 years old village has been found.
I would like to talk to an archaeologist who’s familiar with First Nations discoveries to put that discovery in perspective. Would you be, or know someone would be, available to discuss those subjects, by phone, skype or email soon ?
Thank you very much for your cooperation.
+ 33 6 69 06 48 35
Let logic prevail’ Grant and James have left the most sensible perspectives… if subject antiquities are deemed valueless’ then they will be treated as such by finders.. as over the past countless years there will be many more pieces lost. As more and more land is being excavated items unearthed will most certainly be re-buried and in the process broken’ gone’ and most likely never to be found again.. anything found by washouts or exposed by natural forces of erosion will likely be tossed’ but further out of reach’ never to be enjoyed by ones who may appreciate pieces picked from even the bottoms of water bodies, they would likely be discarded as such’ value-less.. they will be gone forever’ when gold and all items of intrinsic value become worth-less’ it will all be tossed as well.. wait till then’ we are not there yet’ and as far as reference toward drug addicts pillaging and selling goes’ .. ???.. senseless should no longer be the rule for guidance in such matters…
Other activities, such as people going down on the banks of rivers or creeks in 4x4s, ATV’s etc etc.. driving on them, ripping up the grounds and grinding up artifacts.. crushing and breaking them to bits’ so too the mining equipment tearing up the beds where the artifacts lie.. pulverizing them.. I myself have seen many remnants of.. bits and pieces of them.. after having been spit out by the tires… sad waste’ .. and there are those who would have a problem with ones who would rescue subject items, and villainize them.. ??? Logical?
as for the collection in question about selling I’ve been hunting along rivers plowed fields and just walking and these type items are not fro. graves andbelongbto who EVERE stumbles upon them , you my friend are just starting alot of trouble for nuthin g more than a surface find that w ould be lost to time had it not been for who. ever picked it up . so please shut you mouth about anyone d oing anything wrong , your just mad because you didn’t have the joy of finding it , the natives didn’t want it either th at’s why it was diverted for not being perfect for their use .
It is incredible to see the disrespect of cultural treasures, in such simplified terms. You can’t consider the lack of protection of such artifacts, by seperating it from the economic opportunities, or indeed lack of, within the communities they come from.
You can’t say oh they don’t want them, so I’ll have it and that’s it, when you know there is valuable historical context to be shared and by taking it away, is another way of empirialism, and advantageous opportunism.
Looting exists today in ancient greek artifacts because there is no sufficient funding to excavate, research and store.
The historical value of having an artifact in an educational establishment vs someone’s glass cabinet at home is
a) this is cultural treasure and should be shared in public institutions so we can learn and build our knowledge from and
b) not sharing, and allowing others to elaborate on those histories, is loss of knowledge and onward progression.
Owning something privately has no value whatsoever and any price paid for it, is devaluing money itself.
Instead of demonizing private collection why not allow the use of these collections by inviting these collectors to participate in your institutions. There is not enough space to house all the private collection I one spot. Some of these collection have been in families for generations. Every collector I have talked to would love to cooperate with government and universities and institutions with access to these collections. Most will not in fear of being crucified by the archeological system.
Private collectors started the whole thing when it comes to caretaking of artifacts. They have become the devil in the eyes of archeology. The sad thing is these private collectors jab a lot of knowledge to part in to the scollars as they are just as passionate and caring as any other person in the field, scollor or not.
Please be kind to all fellow people with the same passion. Maybe invite them to share their knowledge with you. You will be surprised at the information you may gain.
Scaring them into hiding is rediculess.
Not ever collector is evil and just interested in money. Most are more interested in sharing what the have and know. Some I have met even know more than the educated archeologists.
They want to share but are to afraid of the reproccusions from the societies involved.
Like I said if everyone handed in their private collections there is no place in the world big enough to house it all.
Grant, you are correct in your observation that most collections have begun in private hands. The only idea I can offer is that if collectors have the funds to keep a collection, they should porposionately allocated funds to the artifact maintainance and display in public realms, by opening houses, inviting educational establishments and academics to incorporate in their studies.
That would be great if they did not feel like the collections would be confiscated and they themselves would not be persecuted for having the collection. That seems to be the biggest issue amoungst collectors in Canada.
Maybe one day. Collectors love to talk and help as far as I have noticed but are affraid to go public for reasons I have mentioned.
Thanks for listening.
these artifacts are from a race that didn’t and still doesn’t have the right to choose what happens to themselves their lands and their history because they were butchered poisoned hearded on to reserves and re-educated for hundreds of years.their culture languages history and race was made illegal and almost wiped out by people that were brutal and cruel driven by selfish wants…their children over 4 were handcuffed and kidnapped at gun point starved beaten raped intentionally infected and murdered as part of their re-education.all these comments i get but they look at things as simple objects with no thought of how and why this stuff is available in the first place.
mahkwa – thanks for your comment. There’s an emerging movement in Indigenous Archaeology to refer to artifacts as “belongings” with the explicit goal of personalizing and assigning ownership to the archaeological record. Sometime language matters disproportionately and this might be a case were changing the language changes the discipline.
Interesting to see how fiercely the apologists for graverobbers, junkie scavengers, and looters have come out in this comment section. And not once, on this entire page, was clear mention made of the wider illegality of plundering graves by these “sweet old farmers” and their ilk. Much of British Columbia is unceded land, meaning the plunder of First Nations belongings is patently criminal by any legal or moral standard. The titles assigned to both private and crown lands are fictitious de facto operations, and have no clear resolution in sight. As such, of course BC law is wuzzy on the legality of this trade, because the land tenure of this colony, eh, province, has yet to achieve true legal clarity. Regardless of any reforms to the Indian Act, sovereign nation status, or treaties in the future, it’s clear that this sort of trade will become punishably illicit.
The pleas from looters fall dead flat to anyone with a mote of conscience, and yet they still bandy about like the guilty handed Lady Macbeth’s they are. You don’t dig up graves for profit and call yourself moral, never mind legal. You don’t make excuses saying “it’s everyone’s heritage” and deserve one drop of respect for your ignorance of colonial mealfeasance. You don’t attack the work archaeologists have done to work with and for native communities to accommodate the worthy and difficult goals of preservation and science and call yourself anything other than a knuckle dragging boor. But that is the mentality of these low down looters. Is it any wonder they have acquired the reputation for being meth heads with such disingenuous and craven illogic? No one takes them seriously.
Looters and plunderers should be strung up by their petards. Grave robbing profiteers like “Grumpa” should get harsh and lengthy prison. It’s as simple as that. Hopefully someday some sensible sovereignty regime which balances Crown and Indigenous land management in the area will make such violations of law, rights, and decency sternly illegal. Until then, BC looks very backward given the clarity of such illegal pursuits in most countries’ law.
Robbing burial sites is one thing,, but finding tools in ancient creek beds ect. is another.
This is sensible’ what yousay’
I am too old to worry, but as each archaeological is destroyed by progress supported by many Native American,many sites are destroyed along with burials. A great deal of cultural history is lost. I you do not care about tribal history please contact the nearest tribal counsel and tell them their past has no value. What is left, the pot hunters will destroy and the tribal past is gone. Then collection and reporting of surface finds through out the world have resulted in the rescue of a great deal of cultural information.and the discovery of much more information. If you have no interest in the past, say so! Archaeology was an important too used to establish land claims in the SW. With no new data the past is gone. Most archaeology in Alaska, my home is salvage archaeology and sites every day are destroyed by construction work and natural erosion. The various tribes seem .willing to make money rather than understanding their past. Quinhagek and Kodiak and North Slope are the exceptions. This is the choice of every tribe. No one else in the world expects artifacts to be left on the ground or turned in without reward.. The English system works well while we have one that doesn’t work at all. The state,and federal government should operate new laws on private and public lands, Tribal lands obviously should be under tribal control. Oops! They are and the result is not good.
I don’t agree at all. These are just old tools and other pieces, that people found in the ground. And all those pieces have a story to tell.
They don’t belong to anyone at this point, because the owners are long gone. But the owners along with these pieces can be remembered and honoured.
I just can’t figure up why people get upset by this stuff.