Collecting things is human nature. Deep within us all is a packrat that just loves to accumulate things that we find interesting. Our budget has a direct impact on the size and scope of our collection, and most of us always wish we could have more of what we love to collect.
Ever since Europeans first set foot in North America and started plowing the ground to grow crops, they have been fascinated with Native American artifacts. Even some of our founding fathers took a great interest in artifacts. Thomas Jefferson wrote about excavating a small mound not far from his home Monticello, taking notes and drawing diagrams of what he found. Some refer to him as the father of modern archaeology.
The story of the once great Native American people of North America is a tragic one, and while I constantly endeavor to learn more about them by studying what they left behind there are limits to what is morally and legally acceptable. First and foremost, I will never buy artifacts that were found in association with a Native American grave. I wouldn’t want people rummaging through my ancestors graves and I certainly am not interested in buying looted artifacts from the final resting place of any human being. Secondly, I cannot and will not buy artifacts that were found on public lands after 1979. If you are an artifact hunter then you must be aware that there are a number of laws that make it illegal for you to take artifacts from government land. Those laws include but are not limited to
1. The Antiquities Act of 1906
2. The Archaeological Resources Act of 1979 (ARPA)
3. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA)
While collecting artifacts from public lands is illegal, artifacts found on private lands are perfectly legal to collect, buy and sell. Some states do have limitations on how artifacts can be obtains from even private land, but there are legal ways to sell artifact from those states. I encourage you to read up on your state’s laws.