The F.B.I. Is Trying to Return Thousands of Stolen Artifacts, Including Native American Burial Remains

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tags: artifacts, Native American history, historical artifacts, F.B.I.

Five years ago, F.B.I. agents descended on a house in rural Indiana packed with ancient artifacts unlawfully obtained by the home’s owner, 91-year-old Don Miller. Over a six-day raid, the agency seized more than 7,000 objects in a collection that ranged in the tens of thousands. It remains the largest single recovery of cultural property in the agency’s history. Witnessing the sheer number of artifacts accumulated was “jaw-dropping,” F.B.I. Agent Tim Carpenter later recollected in an interview with CBC’s Susan Bonner. Most staggering of all was the discovery that Miller had amassed approximately 500 sets of human remains, many of which are believed to have been looted from Native American burial grounds.

Since the raid, the F.B.I. has been quietly working to repatriate the objects and remains to their rightful owners. But to date, only around 15 percent of the horde has been returned. In the hopes of speeding up the identification and repatriation process, the F.B.I. is now publicizing the case.

It was no secret that the homeowner possessed a collection of artifacts that, according to the F.B.I., ultimately swelled to 42,000 in number.

Miller, who died in 2015, was a Christian missionary who was known among his community for his collections of treasure that he accumulated during vacation time traveling the world on “archaeological digs,” according to reporting by Indianapolis Star’s Domenica Bongiovanni. To that end, he often invited local residents, reporters and Boy Scout troops into his home to view his artifacts, however, he kept the human remains largely out of sight, CBS News reports.

Read entire article at Smithsonian.com

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