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  • 5 indicted for American Indian artifact looting

    5 indicted for American Indian artifact looting
    By Carson Walker, Associated Press Writer
    The Associated Press - 25 January 2009
    Rapid City Journal | News » Top | 5 indicted for American Indian artifact looting

    EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. (AP) -- The pottery, stone knives, arm bands and other American Indian items sitting in a vendor's booth or posted online look innocent enough, but the centuries-old artifacts taken from South Dakota's rugged Missouri River banks don't belong to the sellers.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office has indicted five men, accusing them of looting or trading the ancient items.

    The river's banks are "supplying the rest of the country the artifacts they want for their collections," said Richard Harnois, senior field archaeologist with the Army Corps of Engineers in Pierre. "There isn't anywhere else in the country that is like this. You have a huge drainage system populated by people for 12,000 years and banks that are eroding."

    Federal laws prohibit the removal of human remains, funerary items and other sacred items from public and Indian land and bans anyone from knowingly buying those items. It is legal for landowners to take items from their own property.

    "It sure seems to be the Missouri River trenches is the honey pot," Harnois said.

    "It's just one huge artifact mine for some of these folks."

    Those indicted are: Brian Ekrem, 28, of Selby; Richard Geffre, 49, of Pierre; Elliot Hook, 52, of Wessington Springs; Scott Matteson, 60, of Fort Pierre; and John Sheild, 77, of Madison, Wis.

    Their lawyers either had no comment or could not be reached for comment.

    They each pleaded not guilty in federal court in Pierre to charges that include excavating and trafficking in archaeological resources and trafficking in Native American cultural resources.

    Among the items: copper arm bands and bracelets, beads, stone knives, bone tools, pipes, pottery, bone fish hooks, antler arrow points, hammers, cannonballs, British and French gun flints.

    The illegal taking and trading of artifacts from public and Indian land has been fairly constant among collectors, but online auction sites give people with an interest in ancient items the chance to profit from it, Harnois said.

    "It really opened up the market and enabled these folks to sell stuff," he said.

    "It's the money they want," Halley Maynard, a tribal cultural preservation monitoring enforcement officer for the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.

    "These sites are going back thousands and thousands of years."

    Richard Lofton, a cultural preservation technician with the tribe, said that besides the loss of artifacts, the looters also speed river bank erosion by digging holes that fill with water.

    U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley said the government must try to the preserve historic pieces and not just catch those responsible for illegal trade.

    "The artifact cases currently under indictment and investigation involve a significant number of items. An important aspect of the ongoing investigation is to preserve and respectfully return these objects to their rightful places," he said.

    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Historian View Post
    5 indicted for American Indian artifact looting
    By Carson Walker, Associated Press Writer
    The Associated Press - 25 January 2009
    Rapid City Journal | News » Top | 5 indicted for American Indian artifact looting

    EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. (AP) -- The pottery, stone knives, arm bands and other American Indian items sitting in a vendor's booth or posted online look innocent enough, but the centuries-old artifacts taken from South Dakota's rugged Missouri River banks don't belong to the sellers.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office has indicted five men, accusing them of looting or trading the ancient items.

    The river's banks are "supplying the rest of the country the artifacts they want for their collections," said Richard Harnois, senior field archaeologist with the Army Corps of Engineers in Pierre. "There isn't anywhere else in the country that is like this. You have a huge drainage system populated by people for 12,000 years and banks that are eroding."

    Federal laws prohibit the removal of human remains, funerary items and other sacred items from public and Indian land and bans anyone from knowingly buying those items. It is legal for landowners to take items from their own property.

    "It sure seems to be the Missouri River trenches is the honey pot," Harnois said.

    "It's just one huge artifact mine for some of these folks."

    Those indicted are: Brian Ekrem, 28, of Selby; Richard Geffre, 49, of Pierre; Elliot Hook, 52, of Wessington Springs; Scott Matteson, 60, of Fort Pierre; and John Sheild, 77, of Madison, Wis.

    Their lawyers either had no comment or could not be reached for comment.

    They each pleaded not guilty in federal court in Pierre to charges that include excavating and trafficking in archaeological resources and trafficking in Native American cultural resources.

    Among the items: copper arm bands and bracelets, beads, stone knives, bone tools, pipes, pottery, bone fish hooks, antler arrow points, hammers, cannonballs, British and French gun flints.

    The illegal taking and trading of artifacts from public and Indian land has been fairly constant among collectors, but online auction sites give people with an interest in ancient items the chance to profit from it, Harnois said.

    "It really opened up the market and enabled these folks to sell stuff," he said.

    "It's the money they want," Halley Maynard, a tribal cultural preservation monitoring enforcement officer for the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.

    "These sites are going back thousands and thousands of years."

    Richard Lofton, a cultural preservation technician with the tribe, said that besides the loss of artifacts, the looters also speed river bank erosion by digging holes that fill with water.

    U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley said the government must try to the preserve historic pieces and not just catch those responsible for illegal trade.

    "The artifact cases currently under indictment and investigation involve a significant number of items. An important aspect of the ongoing investigation is to preserve and respectfully return these objects to their rightful places," he said.
    I'm sorry to hear that, and its getting pathetic that it involves around money. I hope the artifacts were restored back in its rightful place. I would my kids to see artifacts like this in the future, and fools like them looting it is making it hard to preserve the items. Well I just hope they will be returned, and the looters need to be guilty...that's stealing. Justice system is just as messed up as the government...

    -Kiana

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    • #3
      Guilty!

      2nd man sentenced in Mo. River artifacts case

      2nd man sentenced in Mo. River artifacts case

      Originally published: August 23, 2009 3:26 PM
      By The Associated Press

      PIERRE, S.D. - PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The second of five men has been sentenced for illegally trafficking American Indian artifacts taken from the banks of the Missouri River in South Dakota.

      Brian Ekrem of Selby will serve 10 months in prison and must forfeit 204 archaeological items, including pottery, bone fish hooks, bone and stone knives, bone and stone tools, and stone points.

      John Sheild of Monona, Wis., was earlier fined $10,000 and ordered to forfeit items.

      Elliot Hook of Wessington Springs and Richard Geffre of Pierre have also pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.

      Scott Matteson of Fort Pierre pleaded guilty to being a drug user in possession of firearms but charges of trafficking in archaeological resources are still pending against him.






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      • #4
        Dangerous scumbags

        Here's the type of people involved:

        New charge filed against Ft. Pierre man

        New charge filed against Ft. Pierre man

        April 27, 2009


        PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – Grand jurors in Pierre have filed an additional count against one of five men charged in federal court with looting or trading American Indian artifacts.

        Sixty-year-old Scott Matteson of Fort Pierre pleaded not guilty in Pierre to being a drug user in possession of firearms and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

        According to the indictment, he had in his possession on Dec. 17 marijuana, four revolvers, four shotguns and two rifles.

        The four other men charged separately with Matteson in the artifact looting and trading case are: Brian Ekrem of Selby, Richard Geffre of Pierre, Elliot Hook of Wessington Springs and John Sheild of Madison, Wis.
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        • #5
          I have no sympathy for these men when it comes to their looting of artifacts.

          The other charges against Mr. Matteson are, imo, non-issues. He sold marijuana and owned guns? Big d**n deal. Move a state or two over and he coulda opened up a medical marijuana dispensary and been a "respected" businessman. He owned guns? Well, ahem,...where I come from everybody got guns. As long as he's not robbin' liquor stores or shootin' people, he can have as many guns as he wants.
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          • #6
            South Dakota Man Sentenced for Trafficking in Archaeological Resources (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)
            U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Fort Pierre, S.D., man charged with trafficking in archaeological resources was sentenced on Sept. 13, 2010, by U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson, Jr. Scott A. Matteson, 61, was sentenced to eight months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $125 special assessment. Matteson was indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 11, 2008, for trafficking in archaeological and Native American cultural resources. In the plea agreement, Matteson agreed to forfeit all interest in numerous archaeological resource items including a stone discoidal game piece, a stone atlatl weight, stone tools, stone knives, stone points, a clay trade pipe and cannon balls.

            www.justice.gov/usao/sd/Media.html
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