Our Vanishing History

For decades, searching for artifacts was considered fair game regardless of where they were located. Treasure hunting was an innocent past time and enthusiasts thought nothing of happily rooting through the terrain with pick axes and shovels, and eventually metal detectors. Boy Scouts earned badges for their arrowhead collections. Some ambitious collectors procured maps of varying legitimacy hoping to track down lost caches of gold or silver. In fact, it was the rumor of lost gold that led to a substantial amount of damage at the ruins of Fort Craig. For decades, the fort had been subjected to regular digging by artifact collectors. As late as the 1970s, before Fort Craig was again turned over to government custodianship, it wasn’t unusual for families to make weekend outings there to scrounge for whatever they could dig up or shake loose.

Protecting cultural resources has long been a concern worldwide. But in the past twenty years, countries everywhere have seen a dramatic increase in the plundering and trading of archaeological artifacts.

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What Can You Do to Help?

As one law enforcement agent put it, “The public must become our eyes and ears on federal land.” Vandals and looters often believe they are acting with impunity because bystanders and other potential witnesses are generally unaware of the crimes being committed. Authorities charged with protecting archaeological and historic sites point to several actions the public can take when witnessing suspicious behavior:

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Get involved in protecting America's heritage.

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Press Kit

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