"That belongs in a museum!": an evaluation of archaeological law in northern California

The purpose of this study is to review and garner a better understanding of archaeological law and site protection as implemented by government agencies and affiliates in northern California. In recent years, a 67-year-old man was sentenced to three years of probation after he was caught stealing Maidu artifacts from Lake Oroville Recreation Area. Such disreputable behavior often goes unnoticed, and in the case of this man, it went unnoticed for more than 20 years. When local sites are vandalized it is often considered a matter of lesser importance. In my view, this is quite possibly related to an affinity people in the United States have towards more impressive archaeological sites. In Steven Newcomb’s view, it might be related to a site’s specific context (i.e., Christian versus non-Chrisitian) . The Lake Oroville Recreation Area, the Belfast Petroglyph site, and Tommy Tucker Cave are just some of the most recent examples of vandalism at archaeological sites in northeastern California. In order to shed light on such localized examples, this research pertains to archaeology as it is practiced by agency archaeologists in northern California. Places of investigation include the following: Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Eagle Lake (Susanville), Redding, and Bishop field offices; and Caltrans Stockton Field Office. Additionally, the study involves a review of archaeological law, site looters, and those who are interested in cultural resources. Based on the results of this data, a model to identify sites considered most at risk for vandalism and looting is proposed.