Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Commentary on Artifact Raids Continues - INAH Partners With Google.

Southwestern Archaeology Making The News - A Service of the Center for Desert Archaeology

- INAH Partners with Google to Restore Heritage Tourism: Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History has signed an agreement with Google Mexico to promote archaeological and historical sites in a bid to revive tourism following the swine flu epidemic. The plan uses several elements of the Google platform, including placing maps of archaeological sites and directions to them on Google Earth. - BBC4

- Commentary on Artifact Raids Continue: The individuals are accused in federal indictments of stealing, receiving or trying to sell Ancestral Puebloan artifacts stolen from public and tribal lands. One of the individuals indicted, a Blanding physician, reportedly took his own life. That death indeed is a tragedy. But so is the looting. Artifacts removed from their context are disconnected from the stories they have to tell. Furthermore, they do not belong to the people who profit from their sale. Although those people may argue that anything found on public lands is theirs for the taking, that is not true legally and certainly is questionable ethically, as well.

- Afidavits Illustrate Federal Case Against Alleged Pot-hunters: Jeanne Redd tried to peddle a shell necklace from tribal land made famous in a Tony Hillerman novel. Aubry Patterson would go pot hunting and instead came across American Indian skeletons. And Tad Kreth assured his worried grandmother that he never would end up in jail over his artifact dealing. So alleges a batch of new search-warrant affidavits released Tuesday in federal cases against these three southern Utahns and others indicted last week in what officials are calling the biggest-ever crackdown against illegal traffickers of pre-Columbian tribal artifacts.

- Craig Childs Describes Federal Case as A Raid on the "Good 'Ole (Artifact) Boys:" After federal raids last week on the somewhat casual, small-town traffic in illicit Southwest artifacts, one prominent pot hunter is dead and nearly a dozen more are under indictment. The criminal actions grew out of a two-year undercover investigation in the Four Corners region, in which a wired informant purchased more than $300,000 in illicit antiquities. Most were bought in the high desert town of Blanding, Utah. - LA Times

- Resentment Grows in Blanding: The backlash started soon after, and not just because of the arrest of James and Jeanne Redd. Another group of agents had yanked Nick Laws, 30, from his home with such force that they broke some of his toes, local officials say. Nearly 20 agents had surrounded a pair of mobile homes belonging to septuagenarian brothers and led them away in cuffs. Local authorities called the raids overkill. The county sheriff, whose brother was among those charged, launched his own investigation into how suspects were treated. Then a day after his arrest, Dr. Redd killed himself. - LA Times

- Concepts of Value and Material Culture Compared and Contrasted in Utah: Like many people last weekend, I took the public tour of the new Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City, where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stores some of its most precious artifacts. In one of the library's reading rooms, some artifacts are housed in glass cases. They run the gamut from a first-edition copy of The Book of Mormon with handwritten notations by Joseph Smith to a genealogy board game from the '70s (with garish colors true to the period). Such artifacts are a record of a people. The artifacts are clues to how they lived their lives, and what they believe to be important. Nobody would look at these precious items and say to themselves: "Gee, I wonder how much these would fetch on eBay?" The monetary value of artifacts from another group of people -- the Native American tribes of the Four Corners area of southeastern Utah -- was a hot topic last week, when federal officials announced the arrests of two dozen suspects accused of trafficking in looted archaeological items.

- Arizona Preservation Conference Starts Tomorrow: Just a reminder that the 7th Annual Statewide Preservation Partners conference is this Thursday to Saturday at the Phoenix Hyatt. There are some excellent archaeological sessions planned on local ordinances, Native American perspectives on preservation, a recap of Aprils Traditional Cultural Properties conference, the Arizona State Museum's pottery vault project, big public projects such as the Light Rail project, Interstate-10 in Tucson, and the Phoenix convention center, how to balance public access to sites with the risk of vandalism, the analysis of historic period archaeological materials, and far more. The event and features the Governors Archaeology Awards, a workshop on how to remove graffitti from rock art and other archaeological places, and national speakers Donovan Rypkema and Gwendolyn Wright.

- Lecture on Chocolate in the Ancient Americas this Sunday at the Anasazi Heritage Center: Historian Sharon Edgar Greenhill will speak about the deep history of a near-magical food—chocolate— at the Anasazi Heritage Center on Sunday, June 21, at 2:00 pm. Her appearance is part of the 2009 Four Corners Lecture Series, which also sponsors events at Mesa Verde National Park, Fort Lewis College, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, and the Cortez Cultural Center. Museum admission will be free throughout the day on June 21.The Bureau of Land Management Anasazi Heritage Center is 3 miles west of Dolores on State Highway 184, and is open daily from 9 to 5. For more information, call the Center at (970)882-5600, or visit the web site at the following link:

- Plein Air Painting Show At Anasazi Heritage Center: Dolores, Colo: The Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners will present their 2009 summer exhibition at the Anasazi Heritage Center from July 1 through September 7. An opening reception and “paintout” (weather permitting) will take place at the museum on July 12, 2009 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This will be a juried event, with a “Best of Show” award given at the reception. The paintings on exhibit will be offered for sale. Proceeds benefit both the artists and the nonprofit Canyonlands Natural History Association.

Thanks to Sarah Herr and Michael D. Mauer for contributions to today's newsletter.