Monday 12 April 2010

US Collectors' "Rights" Advocacy Group, Stand for what? (part 2)

This post continues the thread of the post above it, and concerns to what degree the actions of the ACCG prevent or encourage the looting of archaeological sites as a source of collectables. This seems especially important to discuss at a time when the ACG is actvely fomenting anti-preservationist attitudes in connection with the renewal of the Italy MOU currently under discussion. Somebody had suggested that the ACCG was in fact "pro-looting" to which ACCG board member Californian coin dealer Dave Welsh took exception in somewhat aggressive terms. So I was interested to see how he would answer the following question.
Tell me please Dave Welsh, what is the official ACCG position here? Let us say that intrigued by the news reports, I get in touch with some of the defendants in the Blanding case and we exchange correspondence. I write that I have always wanted to have an Anasazi knife, that its one of my unfulfilled ambitions in life. My Blanding correspondent says they've one available from a site they’ve found on BLM land which nobody knows about and she can pack it up and send it to me through the post... I make my Paypal payment from Poland and get my Anasazi knife – from an ‘unscheduled site’ - through the post. According to the ACCG, have I done anything wrong ?

After all, US law does not apply to me here in Poland does it? The US gubn’mint should not try to tell me what I can and cannot buy with my legally and hard-earned cash. And learning about the Anasazi by having little bits of their material culture in my home surely is my fundamental right because I want to be a Polish “cosmopolitan internationalist”. Furthermore there are no Anasazi today, why are the White Americans telling me I cannot have a bit of "their" land's heritage? Now these are ALL arguments I have heard ACCG members make about artefacts from Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria etc. Tell me, according to the ACCG, is it legal or illegal for me to buy that knife? This is a serious question, and much hangs on your answer.

Question two, should Polish customs be interested what is in that package, and if they suspect that a citizen of Poland has been engaging in illegal transfer of property from the US (because on the package it says "Ancient Native American artefacts, handle with care"), are they not to investigate? What if the US government alarmed by the scale of looting on public land in the Southwest had specifically asked countries in the EU like Poland to keep an eye open for archaeological artefacts which might be looted? Should Poland refuse?

Please answer - ask Wayne Sales to give the definitive ACCG answer if you need help. A refusal to answer could be taken by list members to mean that in reality the ACCG has no idea what is right and wrong. And please do not try the "a knife is not a coin" - a coin is an artefact, whether you like it or not. That is - after all - why you bring a coiney battle with the US govrnment onto the Ancient Artefacts discussion list.

Apologies to list members who got this far about the length of this post. This by the way is a question specifically addressed to the ACCG, non-ACCG-members please do not respond, please give them a chance to show us what they have to say. In any case we really do not want more slanging matches here.

"dishonorable liar"? Please answer my question about an Anasazi knife from BML land at Blanding and we will see who is being dishonourable.


Paul Barford

That was posted at 10:19 on the 11th April. Until my access to the list's archives was blocked yesterday at 01:32 on the 13th, it had not been answered. Perhaps they were still thinking about it, perhaps it is too long for a short attention span to actually get through. Or maybe the ACCG is considering a way to get out of answering it... Getting me thrown off the Ancient Artefacts list for daring to ask it might be one way that came to mind, enabling them at best to later give a delayed and glib answer that will then go unchallenged. I would not be surprised to find that this was the sort of tactics a group like the ACCG might employ when faced with uncomfortable questions about what it stands for.

Nevertheless it is a question I think this US advocacy group should have been asked precisely on a responsible collectors' forum, one they intend to recruit to their campaign - and their refusal to answer the question I posed to my face promptly and fully should be seen by them for what it is.


Larry Rothfield said...

Brilliant move!

Larry Rothfield said...

By the way, given that the state of Arizona is closing down parks (which means removing park rangers from them) known to contain valuable Native American burial grounds that will almost certainly now be even more vulnerable than before to looters, your hypothetical about the Anasazi knife is looking less and less hypothetical.

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