Thursday 7 April 2011

Blanding Artefacts Sentence Cut

Readers might remember the curious case of a US District Court judge (Clark Waddoups) who says looting of the archaeological resource in the United States of America is "justified", even if in contravention of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. He was the one who sentenced the first two defendants in the Four Corners looting case, setting a precedent of lenience which makes a mockery of the whole procedure of investigation and apprehension of people engaged in looting archaeological sites for collectable items for personal entertainment and profit. The two had admitted to multiple felonies of excavating, possessing and selling prehistoric pottery and personal ornaments in contravention to US law. As part of the plea, Jeanne Redd had agreed to give up all of the artefacts in her collection, surrendering 112 boxes of artefacts, including reportedly human remains. As part of a plea bargain, she had pleaded guilty to seven felonies: two counts of violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, two counts of theft of government property and three counts of theft of American Indian tribal property. Each carried potential fines of $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison. Daughter Jericca Redd, admitted to three felonies for digging up a seed jar, a vase and a pottery vessel in 2008, on the Navajo reservation. They both got probation and a fine. According to the Deseret Times:
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups terminated the remaining 18 months and six months, respectively, of probation for [...] Jeanne Redd, and daughter Jerica Redd. Both had paid fines in full and had complied with all conditions of their probation, according to court records.
It is a good job then that Judge Waddoups did not require that the two restore the integrity of the archaeological record at every single point from which they dug thousands of artefacts a selection of which was in those 112 boxes. That of course is considerably more difficult than persuading jovial Judge Waddoups to let them off. In fact it is impossible. Through their deliberate, selfish and illegal activities these women have destroyed that evidence for ever. And the US legal system apparently does not really give a hoot, after all, its not really "US cultural heritage" (sic) is it, its just "injun pots" involved isn't it? No wonder collectors and dealers over there cannot be persuaded to respect other countries' heritage protection laws when it seems civil society over there apparently has so little respect for their own.

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