To whom does the past belong?
Historic landscapes around the world, once virtually littered with archeological treasures, are being looted at an alarming rate, particularly in the American Southwest. Do these artifacts belong to those who find them, to museums, or to the past? Craig Childs, in his book “Finders Keepers,” argues that these artifacts might be best left where they lie, unless the only way to protect them is in a museum. Even then, he scrutinizes museums methods of acquiring and storing these artifacts. He relates stories of how unscrupulous museum directors knowingly turn a blind eye to the questionable provenance of an item and worse yet, of so poorly storing these items that they may eventually rot away in storage spaces.
While Childs uses examples of artifact looting from around the world, he concentrates the story in his own backyard- the Four Corners region of the Southwest, centering on Blanding, Utah. Having worked with and interviewed many of the people involved in digging up and selling archeological artifacts, he tells the story of how many of these people were caught and prosecuted by the Federal Government, and how many of them don’t see a problem with selling these artifacts for personal gain, while others committed suicide rather than be prosecuted.
Childs addresses the issues of archeology, looting, museums and Native American tribal rights with a thoughtful and respectful approach, giving you his thoughts, while acknowledging that he doesn’t hold all of the answers.
“Finders Keepers” is a fascinating, true story of history, archeology, passion and greed.
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