Tag Archives: Native American Indian Heritage

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.”

As American as it gets

by Jay Townsend

Denise Wickson shares her family history with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division in observance of Native American Indian Heritage Month.
Denise Wickson shares her family history with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division in observance of Native American Indian Heritage Month.

She is the great-great granddaughter of Chief Lone Wolf the Younger, born at the Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma. She’s half Kiowa, a quarter Cherokee and a quarter Choctaw, 100 percent Native American.  She’s a U.S. Air Force Veteran and currently serves as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilian.

Denise Wickson is as American as it gets.

“I am proud of my Native American heritage and this country,” said Wickson. “I am many things because of the land of opportunity we live in.”

Beyond lineage and devotion to civil service, Wickson is rooted in all things America. Maybe it’s her New York Yankees cellphone cover that gives it away or perhaps it’s her devotion to the Oklahoma Sooners football team.

Nonetheless, if you talk to Wickson she’ll tell you she’s an Indian from Oklahoma, an American and a 17-year veteran of civil service.

Her story of service began in 1996 while she was taking care of her aging grandmother.

“My grandmother could see I was a lot like my grandfathers and uncles that had joined the military,” said Wickson. “I felt like I needed to be with her, but she kept encouraging me to go and join.”

Wickson comes from a long line of warriors that have fought for American liberties in many different territories as well as our nation’s foreign wars.

This old family photo shows Denise Wickson’s family gathered at a table below an image of their ancestor, Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf the Younger. Wickson is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division civil servant who is sharing her family story in observance of Native American Indian Heritage Month.
This old family photo shows Denise Wickson’s family gathered at a table below an image of their ancestor, Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf the Younger. Wickson is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division civil servant who is sharing her family story in observance of Native American Indian Heritage Month.

Wickson is a direct descendant of Kiowa Chief, Lone Wolf the Younger, also known as Mamay-day-te. The former chief is famous for saving the son of Old Chief Lone Wolf, Gui-pah-gah, the Elder, during a fight with teamsters at Howard Wells, New Mexico. in 1872. He is also known for the Supreme Court case Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock where he claimed American tribes had been defrauded of land by Congressional actions in violation of a previous treaty. This was one of the first cases where a Native American tribe went to court rather than resort to warfare to resolve an issue.

Since Lone Wolf, almost every male in Wickson’s family has served in the military and so have many of the females.

“It’s pretty amazing to think about my family’s military contributions to this country,” Wickson said. “It’s pretty amazing to be a part of that tradition.”