Tag Archives: Native American Artifacts

2000-year-old artifact redefining age of tattooing in western North America

2,000 year old tattoo needle made of cactus spines discovered in Utah

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest Native tattooing artifact in western North America.

The artifact came from the very important Basket-maker II culture and is estimated to be 2000-years-old.

The tattoo tool made by the Ancestral Pueblo people, consists of a 3 ½ inch wooden skunkbush sumac handle bound at the end with split yucca leaves and holding two parallel cactus spines, stained with dark pigment at their tips.

A chemical analysis of the pigment on the tips found a residue of carbon which is often used in ancient tattooing ink.

Tattooing instrument recovered from site in the Bears Ears region. (WSU)

The artifact is about the size of a pen.

It had been sitting in storage for more than 40 years.

According to online sources, Andrew Gillreath-Brown, an anthropology Ph.D. candidate, was cataloging artifacts that were recovered from an archaeological site in the south of Utah in the Bears Ears region. These items had been unearthed in 1972 and deposited in Washington State University but not properly examined.

He is the lead author of a paper on the tattoo tool which was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

This is a close up of cactus spine tattoo tool discovered by WSU archaeologist Andrew Gillreath-Brown. Credit: Bob Hubner/WSU

The find is important because they are the “oldest tattoo artifacts in western North America” reports KEPR.tv.com.

Carbon dating shows it’s from between AD 79 and 130.

Before this tool was discovered, the oldest tattooing needle found in western North America was an artifact from Aztec Ruins in New Mexico that dates to between 1100 and 1280 A.D.

Whereas most modern tattoos are drawn with motorized machines that puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute, the Utah relic uses more of a stick-and-poke technique.

“You would’ve held it like you would have a pen and done a series of hand poking,” Gillreath-Brown said.

When European colonialists and missionaries invaded indigenous lands in North American and beyond, they often forbade the practice of tattooing among native peoples. In many places around the world, traditional tattooing all but died out.

Researchers asked tribal elders if their ancestors had practiced tattooing. Many, including from the Zuni, Acoma and Laguna Pueblos, said yes.

Tattooing had a cultural significance and was embraced by indigenous people. However, little is known about when or why the practice began.

Kentucky Man Sentenced to 15 months in Federal Prison for Robbing Native American Graves

Gary Womack. WNKY.com

A Kentucky man described as a grave robber who plundered Native American burial sites will serve time in prison.

Gary Womack, 60, of Woodburn, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on Wednesday for violating a federal law that protects archaeological remains.

Womack pleaded guilty to three felony violations of the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) in March, including trafficking in archaeological resources (Native American artifacts) from the western United States.

According to the Glasgow Daily Times, the case resulted from a three-year undercover investigation by the National Park Service, based upon allegations that Womack possessed human remains which originated from Mammoth Cave National Park.

A federal agent posed as someone interested in ancient artifact collections during meetings at Womack’s residence.

The investigation revealed Womack’s dealings in artifacts removed from the graves of Native Americans buried in caves and rock shelters in southcentral Kentucky and also burials from Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Mammoth Cave National Park

WKMS reports, Womack sold the undercover agent artifacts from a mound in Posey County, Indiana. Several people were prosecuted there in 1992 after digging into the mound. But prosecutors said Womack was able to purchase the artifacts as recently as 2015 in Warrick County, Indiana.

In sentencing, Judge Greg N. Stivers told Womack that he was disturbed the defendant had chosen to dig the graves of the ancestors of Native Americans for profit and had done so while being fully aware of the laws he had chosen to violate.

A letter from Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe, of Miami, Oklahoma, was made a part of the record and read at the sentencing hearing.

The letter said, in part: “The remains that are within the soils of our original homelands contains the hallowed remains of human beings, our ancestors. We would urge the court to send a message to all those what would desecrate a grave, that ARPA violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

All artifacts in the case have been recovered and will be repatriated to tribes.

Memo: No Native American Artifacts or Remains Found at Dakota Access Pipeline Site

File photo of protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline looking over a fence on top of a hill on the west side of the Missouri River at pipeline construction crews as they work on the other side of the river on Aug. 16, 2016. Christopher Juhn for MPR News File

File photo of protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline looking over a fence on top of a hill on the west side of the Missouri River at pipeline construction crews as they work on the other side of the river on Aug. 16, 2016. Christopher Juhn for MPR News File

Draft Memo: No artifacts, remains found

The Associated Press · Sep 27, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota state inspection of an oil pipeline site has found no sign of the Native American artifacts or human remains that an American Indian Tribe says are present, the state’s chief archaeologist said in a draft memo.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe had cited the potential for burial grounds and other artifacts as a major reason to lead protests that have stymied completion of the project.

Chief Archaeologist Paul Picha said in the memo first published Monday by conservative blogger Rob Port that seven state archeologists inspected the 1.3-mile section along the route of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline in southern North Dakota. The memo said only some animal teeth and bone fragments were found during the survey last week.

Historical Society spokeswoman Kim Jondahl confirmed the contents of the memo but said it was “a first draft of an internal summary.” She declined to say how the draft differed from later versions.

In early September, Standing Rock Sioux officials said crews bulldozed several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” on private land, which Dallas-based pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners denies. It led to a clash between protesters and private security guards hired by the pipeline company. Law enforcement officials said four security guards and two guard dogs received medical treatment, while a tribal spokesman countered that six people were bitten by guard dogs and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department is heading up the probe of the Sept. 3 incident at the construction site near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

In an incident on Sunday, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier says about 200 people confronted about 30 security guards at a construction site. The sheriff says all but three security guards left the construction site. The sheriff says law enforcement officers witnessed one of the security guards being carried by protesters for about 100 yards. The guard was treated for minor injuries by paramedics. No arrests were made.

Picha did not return telephone calls Monday about the memo. The state Historical Society and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department declined to release the memo, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation by law enforcement.

The clash between security guards and protesters on Sept. 3 came one day after the tribe filed court papers saying it found burials, rock piles called cairns and other sites of historic significance to Native Americans along the pipeline’s path.

Tribal preservation officer Tim Mentz said in court documents that the tribe was only recently allowed to survey private land, which is now owned by the pipeline company.

Standing Rock Sioux tribal members could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

But Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II has said previously that construction crews removed topsoil across an area about 150 feet wide stretching for 2 miles.

“This demolition is devastating,” Archambault said. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”



Bundy Militia Rummage Through Native American Artifacts (VIDEO)

By Red Power Media, Staff

Bundy’s militiamen are rummaging through Native American artifacts

The Burns Paiute tribe has worried for 3 weeks about the safety of more than 4,000 tribal artifacts housed the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Now a video uploaded to Facebook on Wednesday, shows Ammon Bundy’s militiamen standing in what appears to be a storage area of a building at the refuge. According to Carbonated.tv, the men, led by Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, accuse the Bureau of Land Management of mishandling Native American artifacts – while, ironically, rummaging through shelves unauthorized and unsupervised.

Gawker reports, earlier this week, Burns Paiute tribal chairperson Charlotte Roderique expressed concern over how the militia was handling the tribe’s history. “We are really worried about the status of the artifacts down there,” Roderique told the Indian Country Today Media Network.

“I understand they took a bulldozer and built a line around the refuge headquarters,” Roderique told ICTMN “You can’t go and bulldoze things. I don’t know what these people are doing if they are doing things to just get a rise or to be martyr—all they are doing is making enemies out of the people they professed to support.”

Last week, the tribe delivered a letter to the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service demanding prosecution “if the occupiers disturb, damage, remove, alter, or deface any archaeological resource on the refuge property.”

The tribe is demanding federal action under both the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and a “protection against bad men” provision in the treaty the tribe signed with the United States in 1868.

Under ARPA, a federal law authorizing law enforcement and penalties in the defense of archeological sites on public land, removing artifacts is a felony offense and offenders can be fined or imprisoned for up to 5 years.

Oregon’s governor has expressed frustration with federal authorities’ handling of the continuing occupation and said it’s time to end it.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers have been sent to the remote area but so far have avoided doing anything that might provoke a confrontation.

Finicum told Oregon Public Broadcasting on Wednesday they have no plans to leave. “We are very strong, very firm, this facility will not go back to the federal government, ever.”