Excluding Archaeological Resource Crime from Indian Country through Integrated Prevention, Detection, and Response

Presenter: Dr. John Welch and Stacy Ryan, Archaeology Southwest; and Mark Altaha, White Mountain Apache Tribe

Indian Country – reservation lands and American communities – is both disproportionately adversely affected by archaeological resource crime and uniquely equipped to forcefully address looting, vandalism, and grave robbing. Discussants review the results of a 2018, Wenner-Gren sponsored workshop on forensic sedimentology on White Mountain Apache Tribe lands at Fort Apache and the emerging consensus among community leaders, heritage stewards, archaeological scientists, and law enforcement professionals on how to extirpate archaeological resource crime from Indian Country.  Archaeological resource crime is the opposite of a victimless crime: everybody loses (with the possible exception of dealers manipulating arts and antiquities markets). Whether motivated by poverty, greed, or perceived cultural superiority, archaeological resource crime irrevocably damages sanctified objects, resting places, and sites. Archaeological resource crime thus requires and deserves integrated and concerted responses at community, professional, civil society, and governmental levels.