February 25th, 2013
On January 25, 2013, the Oregon Department of Justice announced that a Coos County judge had earlier sentenced a man to five years of probation and fined him $2,000 for intentionally disturbing a Coos County archaeological site.
According to the state: "David Gieselman repeatedly excavated Native American archaeological objects from a site on the north shore of Coos Bay despite multiple warnings that it violated the law. Coos County Circuit Court Judge Michael Gillespie also ordered Gieselman to forfeit 12 tribal artifacts in his possession and prohibited him from entering any Oregon state park for five years.
. . .
"Because they tell a significant part of Oregon’s story, these resources are important to Oregon’s tribes and all Oregonians," said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. "The Oregon Department of Justice is committed to working closely with the tribes to vigorously enforce the laws protecting these sites."
Oregon laws provide that "a person may not excavate, injure, destroy or alter an archaeological site or object or remove an archaeological object located on public or private lands in Oregon unless that activity is authorized by a permit issued in accordance with State law."
Officials of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians observed Gieselman digging at the site in February and May 2010 and warned him against collecting. That same year, the Oregon State Police searched his house and found 180 artifacts.
Gieselman was spotted again by Oregon State Police at the same site in February 2012 and he had 12 artifacts on his person.
A 6-person jury found Gieselman guilty of the charges on Jan. 11.
The site was a gathering place for Native Americans where they fished and may have built canoes. Tribal archaeologists and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department determined that the artifacts collected by Gieselman were traditional tribal tools.
Oregon law puts tight protections on archaeological sites. It is a violation of state law to knowingly dig in an archaeological site even if the landowner has given permission.
As I have commented before, I'm always bothered by the fact that almost none of these cultural vandals ever receive any jail time.