Those days of raiding lands and taking goods from Native Americans is over, at least for regular people I mean.

According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, a man from San Marcos has been sentenced to two years in prison for looting Native American land.

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ARPA

37-year-old, Jeffrey Alan Vance, refers to himself as an "an “infamous illegal excavator of Native American artifacts in Texas.” Vance, along with another man, 33-year-old Dax Wheatley, excavated Native American artifacts from a site known as 41PT109. The site is a former homestead of the Antelope Creek Culture, where Native Americans previously lived in the Texas panhandle between approximately 1200-1500 A.D.

Unfortunately for Vance, he violated the Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA), a federal law enacted in 1979, that prohibits the unauthorized removal of artifacts from tribal land.

Who Has the Power?

The term “Federal land manager” means, "with respect to any public lands, the Secretary of the department, or the head of any other agency or instrumentality of the United States, having primary management authority over such lands." Which is a whole bunch of words just to say simply: The government has full control of the land and only they can do what they want. 

Not Scared of the Law

Of course, Vance wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed either. Vance bragged of his conquests on Facebook with pictures, and when warned of the repercussions he stated, “I’m not scared of the feds." A tip to the Bureau of Land Management was sent with the photographs, which were posted online in December 2017. Homeland Security Investigations became involved, and were then able to identify Vance and Wheatly in the photos.

As if the pictures weren't bad enough Vance bragged that he planned to display skeletons he’d excavated in his “secret artifact lair.” In November 2019 investigators searched Vance's home and he admitted that he had human remains and burial beads inside his residence.

The Big Picture

The act could potentially have been legal if Vance and Wheatley applied for a permit to excavate or remove any archaeological resources from the land. Credited universities and archaeologists have dug at the site previously. Moral of the story? Only the government can do what they want.

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