In the illusion of protecting for all, the loss of the IFP program for armatures by loose legislative language in the Agriculture Bill prompted an end to the possible ‘proper permit’ to the public and justified tax payer funds in one recent instance of over five hundred thousand dollars to be used in an undercover sting named, Operations Timucua, which did nothing but entrap river divers who recovered artifacts in the past when permits were available or even before the state regulation when professional and amateur partnered more seamlessly.
The State Arch’s didn’t know where to go in early years and the public did. The targeted river recovers of recent years, surfaced objects in a less disruptive way than the PhD candidate mentioned in this post has admitted to doing since those recovery methods have not been allowed for amateurs for decades. It is interesting the destruction one can legally do to recover fossils, trees and salvage with legal state permits but better leave those fragile now disturbed artifacts alone while you are down there disrupting things, or one can just go in further student loan debt for higher education and file for an ‘educational research’ permit and do what you like and hire whomever you like to locate the site and pick and choose which artifacts will get turned in. Seems about right in today’s world.
Look, Operation Timucua used images like a recent post by BAR portraying collectors as grave robing thieves looting mounds and federally protect areas, yet no state ‘land grave’ sites were in fact looted by the accused nor were any of the instances of trafficking artifacts related to grave goods…….just well understood lithic material ‘supposedly’ recovered from Florida waterways. But by those transactions, folks were striped in a militant parade of all their artifacts non related to the case, and many items legally obtained from other states with differing laws. It is sad when a person racks up over two hundred felonies for a pushy undercover agent who insist on buying a box of common, river recovered tools from yester years for a hundred dollars…….two hundred felony counts for a box of tools pushed into selling for a hundred dollars cause a stranger at a public show just had to have them. Doesn’t sound like skulls and grave goods and now a good upstanding citizen is a felon.
All public archeological societies are have anti looting ideals, but the common pitch on the professional side leans on making all amateurs to be portrayed as outlaws, and that is harmful to our citizens in your efforts to get ‘people to report people’ for you.
In the enforcement of the new political position on a bias interpretation and implementation of our strict laws, this operation targeted the low hanging fruit of out of context lithic material (not grave goods, human remains or data changing artifacts) recovered in the past and traded to the undercover agents. Many of the confiscated materials seized after the fact from these individuals is not even from Florida, and before confiscation, the public saw those collectors’ items more accessibly than today or in the future. The new position on state sovereignty is strict that all waterways are now deemed off limits and without common sense policing, many will be charged with misdemeanors unknowingly.
In the current leveraging frenzy, eco-tourism is even infringed on if we are not careful. See the slogan now for the Sunshine State….”Came as a tourist, left on probation”…..What did you do? I found an arrowhead on the edge of the water……Well, you deserve it you looting outlaw! Now pay us your money, get out of our state and go home.
Many of our House Representatives, Senators and others in high governing places are beginning to catch wind of this in justice and do not like the current tactics and are looking at reforming the current laws to require partnerships and a realistic permitting process and collaboration. Operation Timucua not only targeted some real assets to archeology though they paint an exaggerated picture of drug addicts and looters and get away with those claims since many don’t know them, and many of these accused had no previous records. The heavy handed, shock and aw campaign and divisive nature of the Historic Society and BAR as the only conservators and curators of our States History is unjust. Not only have certain families been negatively impacted by some who climbing their own academic and professional latter, one man in the collector community is no longer with us since the thought of his record and loss of future liberties as a felon, he chose to take his life…….WHY….because he was caught selling to an aggressive undercover buyer of an arrowhead supposedly from state waterways, now emphasized as ‘State Sovereign Lands’. Wake up Florida! Without reformation in the law with concise language, our current situation is dangerous to the public while this post has a slant that it is healthy for all.
Want to help awareness Florida? Prosecute and clearly define looting in a precise and just way. Like other states in our union, the historic would be better served by not seeing those amateurs outside of academia as looters who are unqualified and reinstitute a permit process to give the public opportunity to not be outlaws. A person should not have to be a university personnel or PhD candidate to be entitled their pursuits of happiness. Set up alliances with the public since at current their collections far out reach the professional, and since you can’t go back to the thirty’s, why thwart the law today on some and turn the head at others. Make a list of prosecutable sites and areas, and police them for preservation for new technological advances. It is bully like behavior after so many years to now prey on the very people who helped you.
With the State’s Archeological meeting coming soon, they have been posterizing an individual from Tallahassee who is getting his doctorate at Texas A&M. However, it is Texas who is unearthing a piece of our preservation in the name of a personal dissertation. It is no wonder many of Florida’s instrumental amateur archeologist find it as a slap in the face. I hope the student Mr. Morgan’s impact statement on his sight list slicing the bank and dredging and assumedly his permit was authorized as such. I hope it is outweighed by his ground breaking new discovers on minute variations on the already established historic record.
However, the irony is, if I owned land on the water, payed extraordinary inflated taxes on it because of my proximity to it, I would not want anyone slicing away or dredging my’ front yard’ away…..but that is just it….the irony of it all. Anti amateur collecting agendas with propaganda that has pictures of state land looting all the while knowing full well that state lands also extend to all waterways and adjoining embankments along said waterways. So, though I might not like the impact in my ‘front yard’, though I chose this property for an investment based on its inherent attributes, when the state decides to alter it using my tax dollars, I have to be OK with it and continue to consider the greater good above myself….right? Pay high taxes that foot state agenda that contradicts my reason for positioning myself in a high tax zone. My tax bracket remains as my personal investment declines. If that was not all, God forbid me going down to my own front yard river bank and picking up an arrowhead, since the rivers now are riddled with undercover agents, drones and such all sustained by public funds to arrest me on the spot, retain me as they call in the reinforcements to enter my home without warrant and confiscate any other items they see fit. It then becomes my burden of proof to regain ownership of any item the state feels was acquired in a looting, unqualified, or unauthorized way. Listen Florida! Partnering is how we protect the past, not prosecuting the public with misdemeanors and felonies.
If you wish more could read what has been discussed thus far in this essay, well BAR did not want that to happen. TSAS put this on their facebook page in response to a propaganda push on how citizens should begin to report collectors and portrayed it in a way that the collecting community is thieves. They deleted the whole thread as of 8/4/15 If only it was as easy as deleting an opposing post on their site and collectors would just dissolve and disappear from the dialogue all together….but….we will not be stop in our efforts towards legal access to collect.
We are the citizens their jobs are designed to serve, so it seems fitting that our suggestions and opinions should be heard and implemented. Forming legislation with concise verbage that is not endangering for our state’s citizens.
We the collector community can’t simply bad mouth the current monopolizing governmental agenda in Archeology, but it is in our interest to expose the heavy handed secrets of enforcement and mishandled conservation of the state.Let us be mindful in our discourse that partnerships, permits and laws that protect both sides are the real targets for solutions that we need to be discussing to bring reformation. Fanning our sides flames might unite us in a battle cry but it might narrow our ability to unify Archeological perceptions as a whole.
Our unity and bringing awareness to injustice and organizing our efforts on our rights and liberties is democracy. We have a voice and voters need to hear it.The amateur has the ability to inform the public in an organic social context, and the Academic from a formal scientific side and together we bring clarity to the public about our archeological past. Both are valid and both stand to gain from clearly defined, legally protected alliance.
Currently it appears many scholars have lost sight of some human fundamentals………. COLLECTORS’ LIVES MATTER