For those still unaware of what exactly is going on in Oregon these days, a bunch of militiamen have commandeered federal buildings on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the southeastern part of the state for two weeks straight. Although the federal government seems quite alright with letting this fizzle out instead of delivering the militia the martrydom they desire, there is cause for concern. There are around 4,000 archaeological artifacts located inside the seized buildings. As reported by Associated Press (via The Wichita Eagle), some are concerned that looters will take advantage of the situation.
"There's a huge market for artifacts, especially artifacts that have provenance, where you can identify where they came from," said Carla Burnside, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's refuge archeologist. More than 300 recorded prehistoric sites are scattered across the refuge, including burial grounds, ancient villages and petroglyphs. Some of the artifacts — including spears, stone tools, woven baskets and beads — date back 9,800 years."
Further, scientists are concerned that the prehistoric sites might incur unintentional damage via cattle, vehicles, and heavy equipment. While Ryan Bundy, one of the militias leaders, has said that they haven't moved any earth, Bundy wouldn't rule out such a possibility. Bundy has said that they are more than happy to return any of the artifacts to the Burns Paiute Tribe, and that archaeologists are free to explore the land, but believes that cattle ranchers and loggers have priority over the land.
"Before white man came, so to speak, there was nothing to keep cattle from tromping on those things," Bundy said. Though some countries had domesticated cattle 10,000 years ago, the animals came to the United States with European settlers. "We also recognize that the Native Americans had the claim to the land, but they lost that claim," Bundy said. "There are things to learn from cultures of the past, but the current culture is the most important."
Head over to The Wichita Eagle to read more.
Feature image via Cacophony