PhD Dissertations: Lewis-Botica, Jennifer, 2017

Revaluing “looted” archaeological materials at Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark, Arizona 



Between 1960 and 1978, an unauthorized collector removed thousands of artifacts from the site of this study: Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark, on White Mountain Apache Tribal lands in east-central Arizona. The physical transformation of this site by a single individual caused me to consider his motives, his methods, and how heritage professionals and lawmakers define looting and looters. I address these issues by considering a series of larger questions: how do different stakeholders value heritage, how do these values change sites physically, and how does that play out in heritage management goals and practices?

This study is divided into three major issues: 1) heritage values and how they can determine heritage management strategies; 2) current definitions of looting and looters; and, 3) transformation processes and how artifact collection physically impacts archaeological sites.

Fort Apache is the physical focus of this study. I combine interview and field data to examine the issues above. By exploring how, why, and to what end heritage is managed at the individual, community, and state levels, I found that individual and community interests are not always represented by federal heritage legislation. I came to understand that illicit collecting could represent personal practice, rooted in concern for and interest in the artifacts themselves. My study also showed that artifacts that were illicitly collected still retained value as research data. Examining the methods and motives for, and outcomes of, illicit collecting enables a fuller understanding of the life cycle of artifacts, the extent of damage to others’ abilities to value these items, the damage done to archaeological sites, and the removal of opportunity for first-person telling of the history of a site. In addition, landscapes that have been collected from retain characteristics that reflect those collecting activities. I also considered the collector’s process as an analytical tool for understanding the meaning and means by which collectors collect. Finally, my study presents best practices for representing community interests in heritage management programs.

Keywords:    looting; artifact collectors; critical heritage; transformation processes; heritage values