TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) – Caddo Indian artifacts stolen in 2006 and valued at $100,000 remain missing, and the theft is a mystery. The FBI is still investigating the 2006 theft of Caddo Indian artifacts stolen from Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Research Station at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.
No arrests have been made, FBI Public Affairs Specialist Deb Green said recently from the FBI Little Rock field office.
The 26 Caddo Indian artifacts, which date to 1500 A.D., were reported missing in August 2006.
The items were taken between May and August of 2006.
No one had been in the locked room where the artifacts were stored all summer. It was a secure area of the building and was not checked every day, according to published news stories and law enforcement reports.
No prior publicity about the artifacts had been published, and the pottery was still boxed.
The thieves had to go through four locked doors.
Someone apparently had a key, because there was no evidence of a forced entry. The storage room had 40 vessels, but only 26 were stolen. The pieces stolen were the best examples of Caddo Indian pottery.
The Caddoan works were discovered in 1980 along the Red River in Lafayette County while Army Corps of Engineers employees were working on a river containment project.
While excavating the area, an ancient Caddo Indian burial ground was uncovered.
Each piece was unique because it was handmade. The thieves selected whole pots, not fragments or vessels reconstructed from fragments. They date to the mid-1500s, when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was in Arkansas.
The theft is a federal violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which make it illegal to possess or traffic stolen Indian artifacts.
After studying the artifacts for more than two decades, the SAU archaeologists were preparing to turn the items over to descendants of the Caddo Indians who live in Binger, Oklahoma
Anyone with information regarding the artifacts should call the FBI’s Little Rock office at 501-228-8403.
Occasional emails or phone calls are received by Dr. Jamie Brandon, archeological survey research station archaeologist at SAU in 2006, telling tell him about a Caddo pot being found and asking if it’s part of the stolen property.
“Every now and then, I will receive an email or phone call, and they will say, `We’ve found this pot and wanted to know if it was some of the missing pots.’ It won’t be,” Brandon said.
“The FBI is stretched out, and the amount of time that has passed is a problem. In the grand scheme of things, the FBI priorities have more pressing issues,” Brandon said.
“We’re not going to be high on the list when we have hard-core war on terror,” he said.
“Sometimes they will call after seeing something on eBay or pottery has been found in a drug raid and they want to know if it’s pottery stolen at SAU. They will forward a photo to me to see if it might be part of the stolen pottery, but it hasn’t been,” Brandon said.
“We will see the pottery again and probably in someone’s personal collection, and they may not even know it’s hot,” Brandon said.
Someone may inherit the pottery and not know the monetary value. The grandchildren may inherit the pottery and then discover it might be stolen, he said.
Brandon is now the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Research Station Archaeologist for Northwest Arkansas and a Research Associate Professor at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. In this dual position, Brandon works with graduate students and teaches anthropology courses for University of Arkansas Anthropology Department.
Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com