Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

From The Durango Herald 2 plead guilty to theft of artifacts Herald Staff Report Article Last Updated; Tuesday, December 01, 2009 12:00AM A Cortez man and a woman from CaƱon City have pleaded guilty to illegally collecting archaeological artifacts in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument west of Cortez. Preston Waggoner and Dawn Laate were banned from entering the national monument for a year and each fined $2,500. All but $500 of their fines will be suspended if they comply with the order and write a letter of apology to educate the public about the importance of leaving artifacts where they're found. Each has written the required letter, she on Nov. 18, he on Nov. 27. The Bureau of Land Management, which manages Canyon of the Ancients, was notified Aug. 18 that two people were picking up artifacts on BLM land adjacent to Lowry Pueblo, a complex with standing walls and more than 40 rooms. A BLM ranger, who found Waggoner and Laate with numerous artifacts that they had picked up from the ground, confiscated the pieces for evidence. They were cited for misdemeanors and ordered to appear in U.S. District Court in Durango, where they pleaded guilty to violating the Archaeological Resource Protection Act. They were sentenced Nov. 10. . . . The archaeological protection act dating from 1979 prohibits excavation, removal, damaging, alteration or defacing of artifacts on public land without a permit. A misdemeanor offense can bring a maximum $10,000 fine and up to a year in jail. A felony violation can result in as much as a $20,000 fine and up to two years in prison. A subsequent similar offense can be punished with a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years. Anyone who collects archeological artifacts from the ground also can be charged under the Code of Federal Regulations. The violation is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and one year in jail. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, part of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System, contains 6,000 recorded archaeological sites representing ancestral Puebloan, Native American and Anglo cultures.
I believe that it is vitally important, not only for the present, but for our future as a nation of immigrants, to preserve as much as we can of the precious relics of the past (that from 50,000 years ago and that from 50 years ago), to pass on not only to those who come after us but also as a testament for the entire world. We can do better to preserve our collective heritage in the USA.

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