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Jackson Co Ohio Grave Robbing

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  • Jackson Co Ohio Grave Robbing

    ....and this is why we can't have nice things..

    No different than going to a graveyard and digging up someone's Grandpa. Sickening that someone would purchase these items. Glad he was caught. This by the way is in driving distance of my neck of the woods

    Montani Semper Liberi

  • #2
    Yeah that is definitely ridiculous. Like you said, no different than going and digging in a graveyard.


    • #3
      Think about that a bit coach. It was a grave yard it just didn't have a picket fence. Some people are.
      In life there are losers and finders. Which one are you?


      • CoachG
        CoachG commented
        Editing a comment
        That's exactly what I was saying. I agree.

    • #4
      What to say, humans. Sometimes we just do somethings that just aren't right.
      Searching the fields of NW Indiana and SW Michigan


      • #5
        Clearly not cool to disturb graves, and then to buy/sell the items and remains is another level of wrong. That said, this case is interesting.

        First, why are the Miami Indians, formerly of the Great Lakes and probably historically Quebec and New York, handling the repatriation of remains of a group from Southern Ohio? We generally understand where ancient groups were located in many case who they became, and the Miami aren't direct cultural descendants of these people. Linguistically they are different going back several thousand years, and historically they did not come from any of the groups in Southern Ohio during this time period. (You could argue that the French and German are more related than these two groups, and you'd never repatriate French soldiers buried in France to be buried by Germans.)

        Second, if the person hadn't plead guilty, would NAGPRA have held up? I'm not suggesting that it shouldn't be illegal to buy & sell remains, but I'm not sure NAGPRA would really apply to remains found on private property. The previous applications of NAGPRA to private collections from private property have been because the items moved between states, that doesn't appear to be the case here.

        Again, sorry about being repetitive, I am not suggesting that what he didn't isn't a crime or morally wrong. Trespassing, stolen goods, desecration, etc. there are a lot of things that were illegal here. I'm just curious how & why NAGPRA applies. It was specifically written so as to avoid the potential constitutional issues with seizing private property and with states rights, yet it seems to have morphed into a tool to seize items.
        Last edited by clovisoid; 08-18-2015, 10:23 AM.
        Hong Kong, but from Indiana/Florida


        • #6
          Well, its the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma (relocated obviously). Maybe it was determined that the Miami tribes original homeland was the Ohio Region where the bones were stolen from in Southern Ohio? I'm not sure on that one. If you are allowed to dig up graves on private property that is crazy.
          Montani Semper Liberi


          • #7
            Originally posted by lukecreekwalker View Post
            Well, its the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma (relocated obviously). Maybe it was determined that the Miami tribes original homeland was the Ohio Region where the bones were stolen from in Southern Ohio? I'm not sure on that one. If you are allowed to dig up graves on private property that is crazy.
            Based on all evidence, the Miami tribe of Oklahoma and or the Miami Tribe of Indiana have no direct historical or prehistoric connection to Southern Ohio. It's just the Miami have been more open or more aggressive in asserting cultural ownership over remains from any part of Indiana/Ohio/Illinois. In this case, I'd bet the police tried to get the state of Ohio to take custody of the remains and couldn't find anyone able to do so. The tribe did the right thing and accepted legal custody of the remains for reburial. Many of the SW tribes haven't accepted remains back even if they know who they are by name because their religion doesn't contain any practices for it (and specifically warns against it.) I think reburial in Southern Ohio would have been better, but that's just me.

            Whether it is illegal or not depends on the individual state; there really isn't a single federal set of laws that defines it on private property. On one end of the spectrum, in my home state of Indiana it's illegal to dig for relics on private land, let alone collect remains. Anything other that surface hunting is questionable. In Texas, unmarked graves are property of the land owner and can be dug or dynamited as deemed fit by the landowner.

            Again, I'm not advocating for the looter in this case, but as a collector of relics I am very concerned about how NAGPRA is slowly being extended to areas it wasn't intended to cover. Human remains are a clear example where there needs to be a law, but what stops someone from saying that that creek find in your profile didn't erode out of a grave? Should all Spiro Mound relics in private collections be reburied? Should we stop studying relics excavated by Archaeologists 50 years ago because they came from a mound? All questions that NAGPRA wasn't designed to answer.
            Hong Kong, but from Indiana/Florida


            • #8
              Man Clovisoid that is a great point about creek finds and I always knew Texas was crazy haha. I would never purposefully and knowingly desecrate any burial site though. If I came across a mound in the woods and I had landowner permission I still would not disturb an obvious burial site. No way. What's meant to be buried is meant and what isn't.. Well if Mother Nature decides to erode some points out of a bank I will gladly surface hunt. If I came across human remains I would be calling law enforcement.. Not trying to make a buck or put it in a case
              Last edited by lukecreekwalker; 08-19-2015, 07:46 AM.
              Montani Semper Liberi


              • #9

                ""The only federal law which restricts the sale of human remains is the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which generally attempts to protect the burial sites of Native Americans by prohibiting the possession and trade of Native American funerary objects and human remains. No federal law prohibits the disturbance of the burial sites of non-Native Americans, or the possession and trade of funerary objects and human remains. Instead, the laws regarding the disposition, possession, and trade of human remains and the disturbance of graves is handled by the states. Only three states currently restrict the trade in human remains"
                Rhode Island


                • #10
                  learn something new every day...that's insane haha
                  Montani Semper Liberi


                  • #11
                    CMD, the Huffington Post article is mostly right. It's the only law that specifically protects remains, but it wasn't originally as broad as it is now. As the law was written it applied only to:

                    1. Federal land and tribal land. It has increasingly been used on state controlled land under a broader interpretation of "public land", but the original law excludes state owned lands because the constitution makes a very clear distinction between the two.
                    2. Museums and collections that are held in public trust that receive federal money including any tax benefits. (The tax benefits is the biggest catch all of the law, if an educational institution or private museum accepts tax deductible donations, that counts as federal money.) There is a specific piece that excludes the Smithsonian.
                    3. Excavations on private land that are funded by public money e.g. road projects, rail projects, university excavations on private land, etc. (The tax benefit above also catches a lot of things here.)

                    Here is a blurb from a very well sited article written after the law was published. This was written by a group of archaeologists & researchers who were against the law. The last definition that includes all museums was a surprise that caused many states to object as well. Some states do not force compliance because it is technically illegal under their constitutions.

                    "NAGPRA extends to Native American and Native Hawaiian graves of any age the general principles of American common law, namely, that human remains do not belong to individuals or to governmental or institutional organizations and that artifacts placed in human graves as funerary offerings belong to the deceased (66). Following American common law, NAGPRA asserts that descendants have the right to determine the disposition of the human remains and associated funerary objects (66) and hence can claim custody of these items. Because of the sanctity of private property in the United States, the law applies only to Native American and Hawaiian skeletons and funerary objects excavated on federal and tribal land or currently housed in museums that receive federal money. It does not apply to private collections. Following the NAGPRA implementing regulations (62), 43 CFR Part 10, all institutions with Native American skeletons and funerary objects that receive federal funds or are part of an institution receiving federal funds are considered museums. This definition includes all universities in the United States and all state and local governmental museums."

                    Again, I have no objection to protecting graves, it seems like a very reasonable and moral thing. My only concern is that way this law has slowly grown to a much broader scope than originally intended. There are lots of odd stories out there now of roads and buildings being built with federal grants on tribal lands, only to make preparations for repatriation. In this case the tribe only charged a $1000 for reburial, but remains from Florida were repatriated to Oklahoma by horse back at the request of the Seminole tribe. It took a couple of months, support vehicles, and lots of horses to make this happen. The tribe billed the University around $750K for it, and the federal government picked up the rest. What's to stop a small tribe suing you for repatriation of an item that you've owned now for 50 years? Like most of these cases, the cost alone of the lawsuit seems to make most people fold. (It's cheaper to give it up and pay fines and repatriation costs than fight it in federal courts for a couple of years.)

                    (P.S. Sorry, I get long winded on topics like this.)
                    Hong Kong, but from Indiana/Florida