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The GE Mound: An ARPA Case Study

  • Cheryl Ann Munson (a1), Marjorie Melvin Jones (a2) and Robert E. Fry (a3)

Prosecutions of looters under the U.S. Government's Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) have heretofore come in cases involving federal or Indian land, thus limiting applications of the law and questions about both the law and the legal rights of artifact collectors. In this essay we examine the GE Mound case, the first prosecution and conviction of a group of looters under ARPA for interstate transport of artifacts illegally removed from private property. The GE Mound case serves as a textbook on issues that currently confront archaeology. The conflicting interests of archaeologists, looters, other artifact collectors, and Native Americans are illustrated in the legal proceedings and the controversies surrounding the prosecution. We review the proceedings and controversies to establish a factual record for this precedent-setting and politically sensitive case.


Hasta ahora el gobierno de los Estados Unidos ha perseguido legalmente a los saqueadores de sitios arqueológicos descubiertos en terrenos federales o territorios de tribus indias conforme a ley federal de Protección de Recursos Arqueológicos (ARPA). Por eso no hay precedente para casos que impliquen los derechos legales de coleccionistas de artefactos encontrados en terrenos particulares. En este ensayo examinamos el caso del saqueo del túmulo de la compañía General Electric (GE). Es el primer fallo bajo ARPA contra un grupo de saqueadores que transportaron de un estado a otros artefactos excavados ilegalmente de propiedad particular. El caso del túmulo de GE nos sirve como ejemplo excelente de las complejidades que la arqueología actual tiene que arbordar. Las actas legales y las polemicas alrededor del litigio ilustran el choque de intereses entre arqueólogos, saqueadores, coleccionistas y nativos americanos. Revisamos las actas para aclarar hechos y corregir malas interpretaciones sobre un caso polémico que sentó precedentes legales.

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