Comments about ‘Overkill or justice? Costly 5-year-old artifacts case nets no prison time and 3 suicides, but retrieves Native American treasures and raises awareness’

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Published: Saturday, Sept. 24 2011 11:00 p.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

MPS, archeology, much less science in general, doesn't seem to be your strong suit, so I'll try to explain it to you in under 200 words:

A lot of people care: Native Americans, scientists, historians, public officials, as well most educated people.

The damage is severe.

There aren't that many pristine sites left throughout the Southwest. Each site is individual and irreplaceable. These sites represent dozens of distinct cultures and distinct time periods, a single site may be all that remains of a specific group at a specific time. Even when sites are similar, both are needed to establish what practices were commonplace between the two, and what were unique to each site.

Finally, museums and parks are mostly for tourists, not scientists. What you call "preserved" is just a context-free artifact sitting behind glass, and is only there to get tourists to buy replicated junk from the gift shop.

The loss caused by gravediggers is immense. Barring the invention of a time machine, these sites, undisturbed, are often the only information we have on who these people were, where the were from, what they did, and what happened to them; and each gravedigger destroys it irreparably.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

@ johnbh99 11:30 AM

There is already a law "NAGPRA"- Native American Grave Repatriation Act- which requires all museums to hand over any Indian remains they hold to the appropriate tribes.

I believe it has already been complied with by most museums.

I Choose Freedom
Atlanta, GA

"That's what they did in (Nazi) Germany."

Welcome to the USA, where the people belong to the government.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

To the commenter that says it's fair game. Go to Westminister Abbey in London and start opening up the crypts of Henry VIII or Elizabeth etc. and see if the British authorities say it's fair game, it's been over 200 years since they died.

San Diego, CA

@Howard Beal. My comment was somewhat facetious, but those are in delineated spaces and actual secured buildings with ownership. Someone finds a pot buried in the ground that's not part of a grave, and was just something that someone dropped along the way and it becomes a federal crime to find it. The current tribes like Navajo can't lay claim to all artifacts.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Inmate to other inmate... Why are you in? 'I dug a hole'

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Howard Beal, rok,

no one has any claims to any artifacts whatsoever, imo. ALTHOUGH, the remains arguably one does. There are always two sides to an argument. The Westminster Abbey point is certainly an interesting one. Maybe we should try it? lol, no.


It's not a property rights case at all. It's plain and simple grave robbing. Tell me where your grandparents are buried and let me dig them up and take your Grandfathers wedding ring or your Grandmothers dress. We don't rob graves, no matter how old or whose in civil societies.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

cedarpost said: this is absolutely ridiculous. to run a sting for 3 years when they could have been turned in the first dig by the undercover government informant. also to ruin so many peoples lives over some things in the dirt that in all reality are worth nothing is just insane.

Then you'll see nothing wrong with looking for pioneer graves to dig up just for kicks?
In all Reality (something that eludes you) "worth nothing" turns out to be hundreds of thousands of dollars, golly that's just insane.

I agree with Mukkake's comment, why do people defends this as "acceptable behavior."

Let's be real
Salt Lake City, UT

First of all, shame on those that participated in any "digs" and other illegal activities. Next, it is stated that, it appears, one of the federal agents coerced the team into digging. If, what we call a friend, continues to hound you, normally one would just go ahead and do it after a while if one is of a weak mind. People are commiting suicide and other atrocities because of the pressure cooker the feds put them in. They were the fall guys and the ones that will get the lesson taught to. Lastly, again, shame on those that dug up relics and other items that were not theirs. Also, shame on the feds for overstepping their bounds and creating an "overkill" of gargantuan proportions.

West Valley, UT

Agents of law enforcement coercing citizens into breaking the law is called entrapment, and there are supposed to be protections against that kind of conduct by government agents.

Be wary people, big brother is everywhere now and if he wants to ruin your life he will, legal, illegal, justified or otherwise.


Most of the cases involved entrapment as the people involved had no interest in selling the items until Gardiner offered extreme prices. In many of the cases Gardiner lied and it has been shown in the records provided by the govt. Museums simply have thousands upon thousands of pieces in their basements so they do not put any TAG on their artifacts.Article after article shows the govt. does a very poor job identifying these artifacts and protecting them. Many of the artifacts conficated were totally legal and should be returned to the owner rather than being lost in govt. basements.


Is this the United States of America or Nazi Germany.

Huntsville, UT

To those who think this is "mo big deal":

What if the theives had dug up your mom, dad, aunt or uncle?

You would want them punished.

Salt Lake City, UT

My final comments on this article:

The people who took these artifacts, or the people who condone their behavior as being "harmless", are racists, anti-government nut jobs, and anti-intellectual backwoods country folk. You have a lot in common with the Neo-Nazis in Northern Idaho and the Klansman in the South. Hope you enjoy the company.


Mukkake-you should read the inditements. Most on line. There was only one site where gravedigging was alleged. That "skull" was obviously planted-read The Source: the inside story... SLT mar.4 2010. No one condons grave digging although Archaeologists did and do it all the time. Read their books. What is against the law is entrapment. The actions of the feds in this case was Nazi Germany revisited. As was proven in court-not trials there were none-the cases were at most misdemeanors and the punishment was more than just.

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