Looting artifacts deemed serious offence by feds

Published 1:09 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

Looting artifacts deemed serious offence by feds

By John Howell

One of the concerns city officials and others have expressed about the development of the Batesville Mounds Park has been the increased potential for looting — clandestine digging at the site and removal of artifacts.
Most of us who have grown up here have at one time or another found arrowheads — either while looking for them on purpose along the hills and fields of Panola County, or just accidentally spotting one laying on the ground exposed following a recent rain.
People have for years dug into those mounds on the old Harmon property that has become the Mounds Park as well. My mother recalls that on Sunday afternoons during her youth in Batesville a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime of boys was to walk out to the site and dig — and that was in the 1920s. They were not the first, as has been noted in archeological journals describing the site that predate the 1920s. Nor were they the last.
But with the present protected status of the site as an historic Native American burial ground and a valuable archeological resource, digging for artifacts on the Mounds property is elevated in the eyes of the law to a serious violation.
Consider the sentences of six north Mississippi residents who were indicted by a federal grand jury for having “probed, dug, and caused irreparable injury to a Native American sacred mound” on U.S. Corps of Engineers property near the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Tishomingo County in 2014. Three of the six have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 20 months and ordered to pay restitution raining from $7,164.05 to $41,551.49, according to Therese Apel’s story in The Clarion-Ledger. One got five years’ probation but was ordered to pay $28,656 restitution. Two others await sentencing.
Likely, none of those six people considered that their mound digging expedition would have resulted in the serious outcome that has engulfed their lives. With that level of consequence hanging over the offense of disturbing Native American burial grounds the likelihood of unauthorized digging at the Batesville Mounds has diminished.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox