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Agency

Journal of Northeast Texas Archeology

Abstract

It is likely that looting by treasure hunters and grave robbers has destroyed thousands of sites in East Texas. In the last 5 to 10 years, the vandalism and looting of archeological sites by commercial looters on private, state, and federal property has reached epidemic proportions (Perttula 1992). Undisturbed Caddoan Indian habitation sites and cemeteries, thought to date from about 1200 to 200 years B.P., are very vulnerable to disturbance and destruction by commercial collectors and looters. These folks are. destroying forever irreplaceable evidence about Texas' cultural heritage.

The looting and vandalism of Caddoan sites has been a persistent Texas problem since the early 1900s. In an illuminating October 1931 letter regarding the looting problems in Northeast Texas, Professor John R. Swanton of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, commented that "there seems to be no way to handle [the looters] except to salvage as much of the material as possible before they get to it.'t Professor J.E. Pearce of the University of Texas also noted in 1931 that unemployed geologists ...and farmers are digging up camp sites and burial places allover and selling the returns for whatever they can get...It is exceedingly discouraging. I am working as hard as I can with the funds at my disposal to salvage what I can of the situation.

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