27 Responses

  1. Alysia Leon

    Is there any petitions against this yet?

  2. Brack Barker

    I would like to know which ‘group’ is behind this. And is there a connection between this request and the recent statewide arrests of the artifact looters? Unless I missed it, there is no mention in the reasons by FPAN on the economic impetus behind this ‘group’ wanting to get this passed. This is collecting for sale on the black market. This idea is beyond ludicrous. Its a pass to go out and further destroy the cultural pre-history and historical information that is lost due to these looters. I’ve seen looted sites that look like a bombing range.
    With Sen. Hays’ name attached to this, this is scary. He also wants to sell and/or give away state lands. And maybe as law stands now,, his plans can’t go forward if there is an archaeological site on state lands. But by this permit plan, it would diminish the importance of sites and therefore, allow state lands to be unloaded to the highest bidder??

  3. Della Scott-Ireton

    Hi Alysia,
    Thank you for your response. There is not yet a petition, although the idea has been considered by avocational archaeology groups in the state. CAP had not been officially proposed and, at this moment, is not included in proposed legislation. We are watching it closely, however, and if a petition is organized we’ll spread the word.
    Many thanks,

  4. FLA Native

    The previous Isolated Finds Program was unreported/underreported because it wasn’t a proper permit system. A paid system would not only financially support itself, but could (if so written) also add much needed support to our state parks system (which have been in danger of being closed down recently). The excellent fossil permit system supports itself on $5 per person, per year…so make the CAP $25 a year per person, and that problem is solved.

    Make the penalties for collecting without a permit harsh enough to encourage it’s use and proper reporting. That would go a long way towards solving the reporting issues.

    “Most artifacts are not ‘isolated’”??? That sounds like an opinion more than a proven fact.

    So it’s ok to hunt animals on some state land, and it’s ok for the state to sell logging rights and totally destroy the land as a result…but you can’t pick up a projectile point from the river without commiting a felony??? Does that sound like common sense.

    The way the current law is written, a child (or anyone) that picks up a 1963 penny from state land is a felon!!! Does that sound right? Any man-made object older than 50 years old is considered an artifact….so don’t pick up those old style beer “pull tabs” from state land…it’s a crime! You can accidentally become a felon by doing something that would come natural to most people. If you see a quarter on the ground, I think most people would bend down and pick it up…that same impulse would compell someone to pick up an “arrowhead” from the ground. Even the federal “antiquities protection law” makes exceptions for the collecting of bullets, bottles, coins, and buttons….things not deemed historically important on non-historic sites.

    This is the first I’ve heard of this proposal, but I think it is a good idea. Looters should be properly dealt with, but there is a difference between the “for profit” (and otherwise) looters, and the collectors that have a love for history. The fossil permit works, and so would this.

  5. bman

    Anyone that thinks the “People of Florida” own any artifacts are dumb.

    I’ve seen government storage sheds full of cannon barrels and other artifacts that will NEVER be seen by the public, yet some of these artifacts eventually make it into private hands.

    But this can’t be, the government isn’t corrupt. Oh, then the state will charge to to see YOUR relics, as a citizen of Florida, why do I have to pay to see what’s mine?

    Secondly, relic hunters aren’t looters. They save relics before the bulldozers get to them, if they are sold to private collectors, then they go to people who really appreciate them. Many museums are full of artifacts that come from private collections. Check out the Tom Dickey collection at the Atlanta Historical Society, or Beverly Dubose collection; yeah the filthy ‘looters’ have SAVED 1000′s of relics and displayed them to the public.

  6. Sid

    I believe this proposed program is contrary to the public trust and would result in the archaeological heritage that belongs to all of Florida’s citizens.

  7. Florida & The Citizen Archaeology Permit | Stout Standards

    [...] are already, of course, lots of letters and statements from the archaeological community claiming foul. Might this not be a project for the Task [...]

  8. Scott Clark

    Would not a certification system with educational sessions led by archaeologists prior to permit issuance be a workable option?

    I ask because I, a metal detecting enthusiast, just completed the fantastic MACP (Minelab Archaeological Certification Program) at Montpelier where I was exposed to a full range of archaeological protocols, preservation methodology and more. The program was tuned for recreational metal detectorists. This week-long program changed my point of view forever on provenance, context, and site discovery methods. I would image the 7 complying amateurs above would be much like the group in attendance in VA. The bar would be raised for the permits, and the smaller group of amateurs would be far more likely to be an asset than a liability.

    One of the most important outcomes from this program was the feeling of belonging to a bigger story. The respect offered to us for our skills and contribution made gathering the artifacts feel almost irrelevant. A digital photograph I can share on my website is all I really wanted to keep – in the meantime preservation in the lab keeps the object in context for study and public access.

    Furthermore, do you really think that the illegal gathering of artifacts will significantly change in absence of a permit system?

  9. StarRider

    In what way does South Carolina’s experience “mirror(s) BAR’s findings”? If quarterly reports aren’t turned in under SDAMP the divers’ licese is not renewed. Reports are required whether the diver finds anything or not; in fact required even if the diver makes no dives. The IFP could have been more successful with the addition of this simple requirement…and many professionals in the state of South Carolina consider their program highly successful.

    Multiple divers collecting artifacts from the same area should be an indication that a possible site exists there, and if reports are monitored that fact should be noticed. This is the exact reason the program could be highly successful if it is administered in the right way. It’s highly likely there are sites such as those on the Aucilla in other rivers in the state, and a program designed and run like South Carolina’s would be the most cost effective way to locate these sites. The sites could then be protected. Redeposits, on the other hand, are the exact materials collectors should be encouraged to go after; they have minimal archaeological value, and interaction with the diver community would add to the knowledge of the resource in Florida. Collector-professional relations in Florida are abysmal at present, and collectors hold vast amounts of information that could be extremely important. The end goal should be the accumulation of data about the archaeology of the state, and ignoring potentially valuable sources of this data is tantamount to simply throwing it away.

    The added cost of two employees could be mitigated by permit fees, and the data generated (if compliance by divers could be raised to more acceptable levels) would likely make this program a bargain. I would contend that the IFP was a good idea that was half-heartedly administered and poorly complied with; it’s still a good idea, it just needs some changes to make it successful.

  10. Linda R Allen

    I am not sure if you plan to do this, but I’ve seen it work in the past with Habitat for Humanity.
    Habitat for Humanity sets up is a direct link to government representatives. Individuals then automatically send out a prepared letter in response to a bill/law to show their support. I have participated several times, and it has worked.

  11. Donna Shelley

    Classical archaeology was my discipline in college. There is nothing more annoying and finally tragic about the notion most people have about the goal of the archaeologist. First and foremost, what the archaeologist engages in is not “finding stuff.” This vision of arrow points and gold coins dancing in people’s heads is the work of fiction built on dreams of making the big score. Some of the posts here contain all the same old nonsense, that museums keep things in storage and people don’t get to see them and that everyone has a “right” to dig up whatever and keep it for him or herself. If you want to see the things that a museum has in storage, why don’t you contribute money to that museum so that it can afford to put those objects on display? As for your right to pilfer the public patrimony, I’ll tell you that in some countries, stealing artifacts is an offense punishable by death. Archaeology is a forensic science, we need all the clues we can possibly gather about an artifact. The moment some “well-meaning” person digs up that artifact, crucial information is lost. I will sign any petition against this lame-brained proposal that declares open season on Florida’s historical and paleontological past. FPAN you have my email address, please let me know what I can do to stop this.

  12. FLA Native

    Thanks for the cut and paste responses.

    There was just as much opposition to the fossil permits, but it didn’t turn out to be the apocalypse that many predicted. A lot of the historic sites that are parks now were found by “regular people”.

    Donna Shelley….”same old nonsense”???
    The FACT is…many things sit in state controlled drawers out of public eye.
    So…we should donate money besides our taxes for the state to display items?
    How do you know who donates money and who doesn’t?
    Do I? (yes I do)
    Does it matter?

    Here are a few things known to me that I find “annoying and finally tragic”

    The Hall carbine believed to have been dropped by Lt. Izzard in the Withlacootchee River after being shot by a Seminole during the Second Seminole War…Found by a “regular person”, donated to the state….rotting away in a drawer under state stewardship.

    During one of the moves of the Tampa History Center, some artifacts are thrown in the garbage because they are “just buttons and bullets”. Another employee actually digs through the dumpster to save them. (told to me firsthand by the guy that saved them).

    At St. Marks…the county puts in a new boat ramp…right through the soldiers cemetery, despite protests from historians. “Regular people” follow the dumptrucks and recover piles of uniform buttons proving what happened…some are on display at the museum.

    A wonderful collection of artifacts is offered for loan to the Hillsborough River State Park…they decline the offer unless the items are donated. They are loaned to the Hillsborough County Veterans Museum, where they are cared for by park rangers that actually care.

    Artifacts from the “Dade Massacre” are donated to the Dade Battlefield State Park…they are given back later because they are “in the way”.

    The reason you can’t visit that many native mounds today is because the state bulldozed them down for material for road beds…..

    Ms. Shelley….That attitude of “talking down” to people and generalizing everyone as “looters”, while acting like you are the only one that knows what’s best for everyone, is what further divides the two “sides” of this issue.
    There are plenty of states that work hand in hand with amature history buffs to both of their benefits. What makes your love of history more important than some child that cherishes a treasured Civil War bullet or “arrowhead” found with their grandfather?

    “As for your right to pilfer the public patrimony”…….So Is it okay for timber to be sold from state lands? Timber companies destroy archaeological sites all the time…some on state land.
    Is it okay for hunters to take animals on state land where hunting is allowed? Fishing??

    This issue is not as black and white as some on here would lead you to believe. There are “good guys” and “bad guys” on both sides…..

    I can assure you that my love for history has nothing to do with gold coins dancing in my head or making a “big score”, and to state otherwise is insulting.

  13. Dick G

    The thing that’s sad about this situation is the broad paint brush some like to use to smear people that are not professional archeologists. The majority of people who collect artifacts are not looters and do respect state lands and sites. We love Florida archeology just as much as the “professionals ” do. Calling all collectors “looters ” and saying we are stealing Florida’s heritage is an outright misrepresentation. I personally sent many finds to the IFP and never got any response at all— zero. For years a good part of the curation of Florida relics was done by non- professionals– Ben Waller a perfect example.Amatuer and professionals worked together documenting sites and sharing information. Yes– there are people who break the law and destroy sites and they should be punished. Describing all collectors as thieves is unfair and counter-productive. Because some people poach game doesn’t mean you stop hunting or fishing right? Why is it OK to have a fossil permit but not a artifact permit?? Both are limited resources. You all know that most artifacts in Florida rivers are isolated and have zero context— why shouldn’t people be allowed to collect them and put them on display?? Most of those relics will never be seen or appreciated unless people are allowed to collect them. Yes they belong to the people of Fla— but WE are the people of Florida. The artifact shows i’ve been to had literally hundreds and sometimes thousands of people of all ages coming to see Floridas ancient heritage. The St Leo’s college show was always packed with people. Isn’t that what we all want to have people gain an appreciation of Florid’as past?? How many people actually get to see the collections tucked away in Gainsville??? How many archeologist take the artifacts under their control to schools and try to get kids interested in Florida’s Native Americans?? It’s a fact that a majority of Florida sites have been found by nonprofessional archeologists and then reported to the state. The animosity between the groups is not going to help the goal of what most of us want. Professional and non-professional should be trying to find common ground as most of us want the same thing. Please don’t categorize us as ‘criminals”– its not right of fair. I support a Citizens Permit and will contact my state reprsentative inorder to make it happen. If it’s supervised and regulated it would benefit everyone. Certainly there must be some professional archeologists that don’t have the idea that only they have the right to collect artifacts?

  14. Greg Collins

    If the artifacts “belong to the people of Florida” then why would we be subject to arrest for picking them up? Obviously they belong to some museum where you will never see them unless you are the priviledged elite. don’t give us the song and dance that you are protecting them because if you really were you would be complaining about the wholesale destruction by the timber industry (clear cut and the planting policies) and the hundeds and hundreds of miles of fencing with plowlines running parrallel to the fences.

  15. Amatuer Archaeologist

    Take a look at meteorite hunting. Over 90% of the meteorites available for scientists to study were found by private (non degreed) hunters, this is a fact. While I wouldn’t call meteorites a “non-renewable” commodity, I would call them rarely renewed. Archaeological evidence is not renewable, but it is also destructible. ANY archaeologists including Della who thinks that looters do more damage than geological and weather processes is simply delusional.

    Archaeologists rarely have the funding these days to accomplish much digging, which means under their control, much of our past is being lost to natural processes.. This is a pure scientific fact that I dare anyone to prove wrong. There won’t be an attempt to prove me wrong, just another cut and paste canned response as is the norm.

    The truth of the matter is, the archaeological community has an army of well equipped citizens with a love for history who would like nothing more than to help. The problem is, their elitist mentality precludes them from accepting this help. The result is that our heritage is rotting and eroding away at a slow but steady pace, and there is nothing we can legally do about it.

    Impose a permit fee, require a paid class to get the permit, hold citizens responsible for doing it right. 80% of us would LOVE to do it correctly, and we would even keep our eyes peeled for people NOT doing it the right way. So not only would you get a free army of diggers to collect data for you, you would get a free patrol force to help watch over archaeological sites. The short-sightedness of the archaeological community is troubling to this history lover. With nothing more than a plastic garden shovel, a tooth brush, and a hand-held GPS I can do careful and non-destructive archaeology that retains 100% of the data a degree holding archaeologists could get in the field. About 1,000 of my friends can do the same, and we all want to help.

    I personally don’t care what rules and regulations you impose on me, I will follow whatever protocols you give to me. What I won’t follow is the mindset that only you have the right to explore and discover HUMANITIES heritage. The love of exploration and discovery is inherent in ALL of us, not just those with a degree in archaeology. You couldn’t stop us if you tried, so working with us seems to be the only logical solution…whether the academic archaeology community possesses logic is still open for debate in my mind.

  16. G Hood

    I for one have enjoyed the resources of the Florida wilderness and have been witness to logging camps from the German American timber and railroad company (my grandfather worked for them as a train engineer) Also found pottery and arrowheads as a young boy wandering in that wild untamed backwoods. I often enjoyed riding horseback with my grandfather (he was 77 yrs old then) I can relay the tales he and my grandmother spoke of indian mound locations and circles in the earth that the native americans of florida danced. I can show you the logging railroad beds (now roads in some cases) and the trestles that spanned swamps and streams (creeks to us). I wish I could give that upbringing to my son for I know he would treasure it as I have ! Railroad spikes , arrowheads, turpentine cups, indian mounds, All will just be memories to some as lucky as I to witness them in their natural glory before they disappear completely.

  17. jerry fortenberry

    I am curious as to what evidence you have that the South Carolina program doesn’t work? I have been a “hobby diver” since the 80′s and as far as I know and am told by those who administer the program, it works. The state gets great information for their data base and the not often found artifact is saved from further destruction by fluvial processes. I show my finds in public schools every year and discuss the history, archaeology, geology and other aspects of my “finds” with very interested children. I have been donating my time and energy to these show and tell programs for many years. Judging from the letters I receive from children and educators, everyone seems thankful that the Hobby Diver Program exists. I have donated equipment, food and time to assist the state with archaeological digs. It seems your program is more an effort to protect professional archaeologists and their jobs. It also seems like an effort to create more jobs for “professionals” when the program can be monitored by volunteers. I smell a rat!

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