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Some Things are Better Left Undisturbed

Looting or vandalizing a Native American burial ground, or digging for or removing archaeological artifacts from government property is an escalating problem, and action is being taken to stop it. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has partnered with various agencies such as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Historic Preservation, and the Osage Nation to spread awareness about the issue and step up efforts to stem the escalating problem of looting.

The goal of this partnership is to not only increase the number of investigations taking place in order to deter individuals from seeking out artifacts on government lands, but to also seek out convictions to show that this is a serious issue that will not be taken lightly.

Aaron Boswell, a ranger for the Little Rock District, installs looting signage at one of the Corps’ many parks. Signage is now being placed at Corps parks in order to bring exposure to the penalties one will incur if found in violation of the law. Not only will perpetrators face prison time up to 5 years without parole, fines can also amount to $250,000.

Signage is now being placed at Corps parks in order to bring exposure to the penalties one will incur if found in violation of the law. Not only will perpetrators face prison time up to five years without parole, fines can also amount to $250,000. Two Arkansan men were recently sentenced to 36 months of jail time and were each ordered to pay restitution of $2,000.

However, this is not an issue solely relegated to Arkansas. In Mississippi, six individuals were sentenced in federal court after being convicted of removing artifacts from government land. Removing or digging up archeological artifacts on federal or tribal lands is a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. In this particular case artifacts were removed from Corps of Engineers property. Each individual’s sentence varied with one having to pay restitution of more than $41,000.

Excavating for artifacts and selling them for monetary gain is not only unethical, it’s a gross violation of Native Americans’ spiritual beliefs. These artifacts are not merely objects of art, they are sacred. When asked why these items are viewed as sacred, Casandra Beaver a Navajo Indian and Little Rock District Administrative Assistant stated, “When someone is looting and digging up these artifacts they are taking away a part of our heritage. When these objects are created we are putting a spirit into them, they have a purpose, and they have meaning.”

Another reason that this situation is problematic is due to cultural resources not being renewable. When asked for an example of what this means, Little Rock District Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison Allen Wilson, responded, “There are no more Mississippian sites being created. When people destroy areas such as this, or remove artifacts, it takes away from our body of knowledge about the cultures in these regions. The resources that we have to pull from are already limited. It’s about history preservation.”

 

 


Little Rock District Supports Hurricane Michael Recovery

Did you know the Little Rock District has a group of employees deployed in support of Hurricane Michael recovery efforts?

The district has a primary and secondary Temporary Roofing Planning and Response Team.  These teams are commonly referred to as Blue Roof PRTs.  In all, about 53 employees from the district deployed with the PRT.

Olivia Crisp, a Little Rock District security assistant talks with  a resident of Panama City Fla, at a blue roof right of entry collection point. Residents have to sign a right of entry to their property before blue roof work can begin.

“Operation Blue Roof is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The purpose of Operation Blue Roof is to provide homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs.  This is a free service to homeowners,” according to Emergency Management Specialist, Jim Marple.

“Operation Blue Roof protects property, reduces temporary housing costs, and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm.  This program is for primary residences or a permanently occupied rental properties with less than 50 percent structural damage. Vacation rental properties are not eligible for the program.”

Once the blue roof is installed, the structure must be habitable.

Not all roof types qualify for the program. Roofs that are flat or made of metal or clay, slate or asbestos tile do not qualify. All storm debris must be removed for the roof to qualify.

The Corps’ blue roofs are temporary repairs, intended to last 30 days and provide the homeowner an opportunity to find a permanent fix. Blue roofs require a professional roofing team to install.

Roofing contractors apply blue roof material to a damaged structure. (Courtesy Photo)

When the team deploys there are numerous jobs the members can perform.  There are Action Officers, Mission Managers, Resident Engineers, Quality Assurance Supervisors, QA Team Leaders and Inspectors.

The term “Blue Roof” comes from the blue fiber-reinforced sheeting used to cover the damaged roofs.  FEMA normally arranges for the procurement and shipment of the plastic sheeting and in some cases furring strips and nails, to pre-designated staging areas.  The Corps accepts the material at the staging areas and manages the disbursement of the materials to the groups and organizations involved in the mission.

This Blue Roof mission for Hurricane Michael recovery will be a massive undertaking.  However, it will probably not be the largest operation on record.  The 2005 hurricane season became the largest Operation Blue Roof program ever with 193,000 roofs installed as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.  The previous record was set in 2004 when 134,000 blue roofs were installed after Florida hurricanes Charlie, Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan.  After Katrina and Rita, the State of Louisiana became the largest single recipient of the season with 82,000 blue roofs.

Along with the Little Rock District, there are three other districts that have Temporary Roofing PRTs.  The districts are Nashville, St. Louis and Omaha.

The Little Rock Team last deployed in 2008 to Hurricane Ike in Houston, TX.  If you are interested in becoming a Blue Roof team member stop by the Emergency Management office to receive more information.

 


The official U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division publication