Oregon police seize Native American relics headed for black market

By Courtney Sherwood, Reuters

(Reuters) – Oregon State Police have seized dozens of Native American artifacts, some more than 5,000 years old, that were collected illegally and likely bound for the black market, authorities said on Tuesday.

Among the items seized from a house in Klamath Falls were articles used during Indian funeral ceremonies and other items of cultural significance, Oregon State Police Sergeant Randall Hand said. No human remains were discovered.

A prolonged drought has dried up parts of a regional watershed in the Klamath Basin in southern Oregon and Northern California, exposing archaeological areas normally concealed by water, Hand said.

“These were tribal artifacts, and we believe that most of those that we’ve collected were from 200 years to 5,000 years old, or older,” he said.

Hand said members of Oregon’s Klamath Tribes had helped in a seven-month investigation into the archaeological disappearances from public lands.

Police said dozens of artifacts were reclaimed from the house, but did not provide an exact count.

Officials with the Klamath County District Attorney’s office said they could not comment on the case or any pending charges.

Oregon law requires that anyone removing archaeological objects from public or private lands obtain permits, state police said.

Some researchers have complied with those requirements during the recent drought to gain greater understanding of an area that has been reshaped by dams and artificial reservoirs.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, for example, last fall oversaw excavations at the former site of Klamath Junction, a tiny community intentionally submerged by an irrigation project in the 1960s. As water levels have fallen, building foundations and scattered debris have emerged on a muddy plain that is normally under water.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Doina Chiacu)

Quapaw tribe announces discovery of historic burial site in Arkansas

By The Associated Press

QUAPAW, Okla. — Members of the Quapaw tribe are teaming up with descendants of African-American slaves to research and preserve an archaeological site that contains the remains of their ancestors.

The burial sites were discovered on land that the Quapaw Tribe purchased in 2013. The land was part of the Thibault Plantation near the Little Rock Port Authority. Before that, it was part of the Quapaw’s historic reservation.

John House with the Arkansas Archaeological Survey estimated that the Native American graves at the site date back to 1400 to 1600, while the African-American graves in the same location probably date back from before the Civil War to the early 1900s.

House also said it is not uncommon for a prehistoric grave site to later serve as a grave site for other cultures.

“This is a very special place on the landscape,” House said in a statement. “So much of Arkansas’ history is told only through the lens of what occurred after white Europeans came here. But there were centuries of prior history, very much of it involving the Quapaw Tribe and other Native American tribes.”

John Berrey, chairman of the tribe, said, “We aren’t sure yet exactly what we will do at the site, so the immediate desire is to simply not disturb it.”

Tribal members recently met with members of the Preservation of African American Cemeteries to discuss the preservation of the site, but both groups said they wished to keep the burial site’s exact location a secret to prevent looting for historic artifacts.

This discovery comes on the heels of a similar one last summer, this one near Osceola, in northeastern Arkansas.

Berry said at that time that it was a Quapaw settlement, part of the area where Quapaws made contact with Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541, their first contact with Europeans.

Berrey also said that increased revenue that tribes have now from casinos and other businesses aids them in protecting tribal artifacts and cultural sites.