Friday 19 December 2014

Georgia Artefact Hunters' Entitlement

An artefact hunting case in south Georgia has been in the news quite a lot recently, an Albany man, Eddie Ballard (37) was reportedly charged with 58 counts of digging up artefacts on both public and private property and selling them, criminal trespass, destroying or marring a pre-historic site, and failure to notify the state archaeologist after an investigation which lasted for more than a year. His home was searched and artefacts were confiscated. It is alleged that he'd been digging up artifacts like arrowheads in and along the Flint River since 2011 and selling them without reporting them to state officials as state law requires. Department of Natural Resources officers investigating say Ballard made thousands of dollars selling the artefacts, so some of the charges against him are felonies. The evidence against the man includes You Tube videos which Ballard shot of himself digging up artefacts'  (!). The man was arrested in summer of 2013, but as investigations progressed, the original indictment was re-issued.

Ballard reportedly pleaded guilty to to 45 counts of artefact theft last week, and was sentenced to 3 years behind bars. It seems he'd been in jail since his arrest.

There's that pious US monetary overvaluation again: "Prosecutors said some of the artifacts he stole are priceless because of their rarity". State DNR Law Enforcement rangers say the stolen artefacts in South Georgia "bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year".

But what is really sickening about this whole episode is the way the removal of cultural property (that of the indigenous people of the North American continent and part of its rich cultural history) is treated by the local judicial system as on a par with the destruction of "wildlife" (Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Corporal Greg Wade) and "natural history":
So that people understand that the arrow heads and other artifacts are part of our natural history.  And were significant.  And there are significant safeguards to protect this natural history," said Dougherty D.A. Greg Edwards.
 I wonder what the Muscogee (Creek) think of that. How utterly insulting.

Jim Wallace, 'Albany man arrested for stealing artifacts' WALB Jun 08, 2013

Jessica Fairley, 'Alleged artifact digger indicted', WFXL 14th August 2013

Jim Wallace, 'Artifact theft indictment re-issued', WALB Apr 03, 2014
Jim Wallace, 'South Georgia artifact thieves video their own crimes' WALB Dec 17, 2014 

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