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Texas man sentenced for illegally excavating Native American artifacts

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Posted at 10:24 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 23:29:13-04

A Texas man has been sentenced to two years in prison for illegally excavating artifacts from a Native American homestead in Amarillo.

Jeffrey Alan Vance, 37, violated the Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) that protects artifacts located in tribal lands from unauthorized removal, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Texas.

Vance and 33-year-old Dax Wheatley excavated and removed artifacts from site 41PT109, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah; the site was a homestead for Native Americans of the Antelope Creek Culture in 1200-1500 A.D.

site 41PT109.JPG

Vance pleaded guilty in February for violating ARPA, and was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk.

A tipster notified the Bureau of Land Management in Mach 2019, that an individual was posting photos of an illegal excavation on a Facebook account that belonged to Vance. Someone had commented that the poster was “digging in federal land and rangers enforce there,” and Vance replied “I’m not scared of the feds.”

Additionally, Vance said he planned to display skeletons in his “secret artifact lair.”

A search of Vance's home followed with the investigation, and he admitted to the human remains and burial beads he held inside his home as well as violating ARPA.