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Fun With Stolen Artifacts

Family togetherness starts with pottery.



Just because a person 150 years ago lost or broke it doesn’t mean it should stay there. An old arrowhead is something to enjoy at home with your family and friends, not get arrested over. —Letter in The Salt Lake Tribune’s Public Forum, June 19, 2009

My sentiments, exactly. Outrage from bleeding-heart sentimentalists over the trafficking in American Indian artifacts misses what is really at issue here, and that is the family fun that results from finding, collecting and stealing Indian trinkets.

Many years from now, when my children are out of the house, and hopefully scouring public lands for arrowheads, pottery shards, loincloths and ancient squaw menstrual pads, I will look back and fondly remember the hours we all spent together rooting around in Anasazi burial grounds, sometimes running across a skull or thighbone or an infant’s tibia, but most of the time experiencing the satisfying thwank of a shovel cracking a cheap pot that had lain undisturbed for hundreds and hundreds of years.

I am glad that champions of family values like our two elderly senators, Orrin “The Oracle” Hatch and Bob “Beanpole” Bennett, have come forward to denounce the heavyhanded and family-hostile tactics of federal law-enforcement goons. In most places in America, citizens appreciate the good work done by various law-enforcement personnel, but I thank God, to whom ultimate allegiance is due, that people in Utah still maintain a historical hostility toward anyone who presumes to interfere in our exercise of God-given rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of Lamanite artifacts.

(Strictly speaking, Lamanite is the preferred technical designation for the Hebrew peoples—later cursed with a red epidermis—who migrated from Jerusalem under the guidance of Lehi Goldstein some 600 years before the birth of our savior, himself a Hebrew, known as Jesus. Unfortunately, his last name has been lost to history.)

Imagine how you would feel if you were enjoying artifacts with your family, or even with a few friends who might have dropped by, and you were suddenly raided by law-enforcement types engaging in what they call “enforcing the law.” Children who had grown up enjoying playing with Lamanite artifacts would be damaged for life and could no longer indulge their pleasure in dressing up in old loin cloths or using Lamanite infant footwear as finger puppets.

Critics have failed to realize that those of us who enjoy aforesaid artifacts with our families do not just stick them on the mantel or display them in a hermetically sealed glass case or make refrigerator magnets out of them. We like to employ them in various forms of tactile manipulation, using infant booties as finger puppets as just mentioned, or playing catch with fragile earthenware bowls. The latter activity is especially instrumental in developing your children’s eye-hand coordination, as tossers and catchers alike must maintain a high degree of concentration to prevent airborne bowls from going astray and landing with a crash on the patio.

Everyone knows that kids can be a bit sloppy in their eating and drinking habits, so squaw menstrual pads (which we playfully call Lakotex) do excellent duty as coasters for milk, juice, or root beer floats, and placemats for soup, cereal, or chocolate sundaes. (One has to hand it to those ancient peoples, who lacked facilities for research and development, for their innovations in developing materials for the absorption of various body fluids.)

Once we have exhausted the possibilities for having family fun with Lamanite artifacts, we do not just stick them in a drawer or donate them to some museum. Knowing as we do the enormous pleasure to be derived from fiddling with such things as ancient Indian footwear, we want to increase the total sum of family fun in the world, and would feel we were being very selfish if we did not afford other families the fun of playing with Lamanite artifacts.

For that reason, we do everything in our power to share our artifacts (even the Spaghetti-O-stained Lakotex pads), with other families. Commerce, exchange and ordinary trafficking are at the very heart of our capitalistic way of life, so we put our artifacts up for sale, demanding only the most nominal consideration for their transfer.

So, I think it most unfair to charge any of us artifact traffickers with criminal wrongdoing. So concerned are we not to seek the applause of mankind for our unselfish trafficking in artifacts that only unscrupulous spoilsport undercover agents have been able to expose our innocent family fun.