August 18, 2009

Stop the train — Utah Gov. to act to preserve ancient Indian village

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The governor of Utah is making good on his promise not to allow a train station and commercial development to be built on the site of a 3,000-year-old Native American village along the Jordan River in Draper, UT. He is expected to sign an easement today that will protect the land from development, writes Kristen Moulton of the Salt Lake Tribune.

The move comes even as federal authorities continue ramping up their prosecutions of a ring of Utah-based artifact thieves who have been charged with systematically stealing ancient relics from gravesites, and other protected lands.

That investigation has now widened to include dealers suspected of selling ill-gotten antiquities.

The dealers, who have yet to be charged with anything, say the prosecutions are over-zealous and based on a new interpretation of the federal law intended to rescue ancient human remains from museums and private collections.

 

Those who favored developing the ancient site at Draper also took advantage of a legal glitch to try to move forward with their plans. The Utah Legislature had mandated the land be preserved for open space back in 2000, but the Department of Natural Resources never signed a document that would have placed the land in perpetual conservation. Last winter, lawmakers let the proposal by the Utah Transit Authority proceed.

 

Both these incidents have galvanized the tribal community to come together to preserve a heritage that is quickly being parted out in a world where you can sell a piece of ancient history on eBay.

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