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Studies in Archeology and Ethnography 2 Implementing the Antiquities Act: A Survey of Archeological Permits 1906-1935

Chapter 3: Exploring the Implementation of the Act

The Applicants

The many different individuals, organizations, and institutions involved in the development and success of the Antiquities Act are listed in the appendices of this report. Hundreds of applications were approved in the years following the initial application and permit issued to the Archaeological Institute of America and Edgar L. Hewett in 1907 (Figure 1). Appendix A provides an alphabetical listing of all institutions and individuals from whom the Department of the Interior received Antiquities Act permit applications for excavation on public lands, as well as the years in which permit applications were received, and the quantity of work requested by each institution throughout the period. Appendix A can be checked to identify active institutions and determine the extent to which various establishments became involved in the collection and protection movement. Appendix B lists specific individuals who either excavated archaeological material from public land under Department Antiquities Act permits or those who were affiliated with a museum or university department and sought permission on their employees behalf. Appendices A and B should be consulted to answer specific questions about individual Antiquities Act applicants and permit-requesting organizations.

Problematic Applications

More than 300 applications for permits to conduct investigations were received by the Department for evaluation and review between 1907 and 1935 (Table 1). Only eleven permit denials were documented during this period. Over half of these denials (6) occurred in the earliest years, between 1907-1910.

Denials most commonly were due to an applicant’s inability to demonstrate the investigation and resulting collection would benefit the American people. Of the six permit applications denied within five years of the Antiquities Act's passage, four were denied for this reason. Section 3.3 of the rules and regulations (43 CFR 3.3) requires all investigators to demonstrate a verifiable public use of the material obtained while from excavations on federal lands. Charles Auld, Charles Baker, John Uri Lord and J. H. Nauerth were applicants unable to demonstrate an ultimate public use of the objects. While their intent may have been noble, they established no firm connections to approved public institutions where the excavated material and records would be cared for and interpreted for the public. Unsuccessful applicants received a rejection letter with a copy of the rules and regulations. Applicants who were turned down also had the option of reapplying for permission in the future.

Between 1907 and 1912, a desire for specimens of petrified wood from Arizona resulted in a flood of both qualified and unqualified applicants requesting Antiquities Act permits. A. B. Bibbons of the Department of Geology, the Women’s College of Baltimore (later Goucher College), the State National Bank of Illinois, and four other individual collectors wrote the Department requesting permission to obtain samples. All of the unaffiliated, individual applicants were denied permits. However, the Department and the United States National Museum did allow a previously collected sample of petrified wood to be sent to the only educational establishment requesting a sample: the Women's College of Baltimore.

Applicants were rejected later for more varied reasons. The lack of affiliation with a public educational institution remained a problem, but new circumstances also arose. The Department expanded the reasons for declining to issue a permit to include:

  • Requests made for land not managed by the Department of the Interior (University of Utah-1923);
  • Overly ambitious projects monopolizing huge tracts of federal land (University of Colorado-1927);
  • Overcrowded areas with too many excavators requesting the same area or site to study (Eastern California Museum Association-1930; Princeton University-1932).

Even during these early years of implementing the Antiquities Act, when the Department of the Interior had an overextended staff and fledgling administrative structure in place, ensuring the prohibition of illegal excavations on federal land was a serious concern. Jesse Nusbaum and others actively worked to prevent private collectors from illegally capitalizing on the antiquities trade from public land. Closely monitoring the Antiquities Act permit applicants enabled the Department to consistently grant permits only to those applicants who submitted realistic fieldwork proposals and who demonstrated an interest in educating the American people.

Institutions, Museums, and Universities

The earliest permits generally were granted to the large, firmly established East Coast universities and museums. Individuals from establishments such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian in New York City, the United States National Museum in Washington DC, the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and the Peabody Museum at Harvard University had worked for passage of the Antiquities Act for decades prior to its passage (Lee 1970/2001). They began building archeological collections prior to the Antiquities Act and continued to collect and display additional artifacts from the American Southwest in their exhibits and collections. From the permit files examined for this study, these five scientific giants were granted over one hundred permits for investigations in ten states between 1907-1935 (only 13 states total were represented by the permits in this collection). Their work accounted for slightly less than one third of all the permits issued for this entire period.

The great number of permits granted was the result of large museums and institutions having the resources and staff to send several teams of excavating crews out each year. They also were able to commit to the care of excavated material and records and to the public interpretation of the results of the investigations. Often, parties would be seeking to continue excavations begun at known sites, while simultaneously scouting out unspoiled new areas for future investigations. In 1916, for example, three Antiquities Act permits were granted to the American Museum of Natural History. Barnum Brown was conducting paleontological work on the Blackfeet Reservation in South Dakota (Brown 1917). Earl Morris explored Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon. A. L. Kroeber surveyed abandoned sites on the Zuni Reservation in an attempt to develop a chronological sequence for the sites he studied. The collections derived from these investigations, some which were initial efforts and others continuations of past studies, were added to the assortment of artifacts systematically growing in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for several decades. These multi-project capabilities were matched by many of the museum's East Coast peers.

Archeologists made famous by their work with large establishments and pioneering interpretations or methods in this period shared terrain with numerous, less prominent institutions and individuals. Less powerful but very active preservation societies such as The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society and the Allen County (Ohio) Historical Society were permitted to build collections of southwestern paleontological antiquities through their own early investigations in the 1910s. Smaller college and university departments like the University of Vermont and Georgia Normal College also desired the coveted petrified wood samples sought in the 1910s and received permits for their collection.

As western establishments, such as the Laboratory of Anthropology (Santa Fe), Gila Pueblo Archaeological Foundation, and the Southwest Museum (Los Angeles), materialized on the western landscape, they too joined the excavation and discovery efforts. New western university departments undertook Antiquities Act investigations and used the excavated artifacts to establish study and display collections. By 1919, western universities were rapidly expanding and establishing departments of anthropology. Antiquities Act permit applications were received and granted to state universities in Boulder, Colorado, Tucson, Arizona, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Salt Lake City, Utah. These universities and others worked to define their anthropological vision through federally permitted independent research and were able to study collections of newly acquired antiquities in university laboratories and display artifacts in public museum exhibitions (MacCurdy 1919:48-49).

Women in Federal Archeology

The archeology of the early twentieth century was largely a male enterprise, although the spouses of famous archeologists often actively participated or contributed to their husbands’ research. Women like Ann Axtell Morris, Mary Russell Colton, and Rosemary Nusbaum contributed to or supplemented their husband’s fieldwork between the wars (Babcock and Parezo 1988; Eliot 1995; R. Nusbaum 1980), but only a few women applied to receive permits to conduct their own directed research projects. Less than ten Antiquities Act permits were issued to female applicants by the Department of the Interior between 1907 and 1935. Female pioneers who were approved for permits during the Department of Interior’s early involvement with antiquities excavations included Frederica de Laguna, Katharine Bartlett, Winifred Gladwin, Florence Hawley Ellis, Louise Parcher, and Dorothy Keur.

Frederica de Laguna was the first woman to be granted an Antiquities Act permit from the Department of the Interior. Twenty-four years after the Antiquities Act passed, in July 1930, de Laguna received her first permit to conduct extensive field reconnaissance “in the Seward peninsula of Alaska, in the vicinity of the coast” (Interior 1930). On behalf of the University of Pennsylvania, Frederica de Laguna returned to Alaska four more times between 1930 and 1935 under Department of Interior permits. She was able to use her research to complete her doctoral thesis on Upper Paleolithic and Eskimo art. In 1933, she received the first Ph.D. in archeology granted to a woman by the Anthropology Department of Columbia University; her thesis may be the earliest completed by a female archeologist in the United States (Levine 1994:12).

De Laguna's excavation notes and reports that were deposited in the NARA II facility, along with her permit data, show she maintained precise collections data and drafted maps of discovered sites and areas surveyed. Her exploits in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet, Alaska (de Laguna 1934, 1936, 1956; McClellen 1988) allowed de Laguna the opportunity to collaborate with a male colleague and fellow Antiquities Act permit recipient, Kaj Birket-Smith, a representative from the Danish National Museum. The pair had initially planned a joint expedition, but Birket-Smith’s ill health forced him to stay behind while de Laguna began initial fieldwork. Later they co-authored several articles on their combined work in Arctic archeology (Birket-Smith and de Laguna 1938).

Florence Hawley, an instructor at the University of Arizona, joined de Laguna in the Antiquities Act permit application process in 1931. Able to combine her field excavation knowledge with statistical and scientific specialization, Hawley ensured herself a place within American archeology. While teaching in Arizona, Florence Hawley directed a major excavation on an undeveloped portion of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation under an Antiquities Act permit (Interior 1931). She had previous experience working on National Park Service land, having excavated and performed collections work at Chetro Ketl in Chaco Canyon beginning in the 1929 (Babcock and Parezo 1988:124-129; Claassen 1994:13-14) that led to her Ph.D. in 1934. Hawley then used material from a site within the boundaries of one of the first declared national monuments to conduct pioneer dendrochronological analysis (Levine 1994:14). A specimen of architectural timber collected from Chetro Ketl at Chaco Canyon was dated by Hawley in 1931(Douglass 1934:197). She also was able to collaborate with an established male colleague working for the Carnegie Institution of Washington. While studying at the University of Arizona under A. E. Douglass, Hawley’s tree ring dates aided in the construction of a meaningful chronology of tree ring dates back to about A. D. 200 (Douglass 1934:197).

Dorothy Keur (Babcock and Parezo 1988:142-145; Levine 1994:15-16) was the last female archeologist to apply for Departmental permission to conduct an archeological investigation of ruins a public land during this period. However, her 1935 permit application file compiled by the Department of the Interior does not contain a copy of the actual permit allowing Keur permission to conduct her archeological investigation in Alcove Canyon, located near the Round Rock Trading Post, Arizona (Keur 1935a). She and her husband, a Dutch biologist, proposed to take extensive photographs of the area and collect surface material to help them plan for a future investigation. Work was to be completed for and the collection deposited at the Bronx Branch of Hunter College, New York City (Keur 1935b).

Despite the fact she had submitted two copies of the recently adopted standardized application form (see Figure 2a), specific information as to whether the project ever received approval (although there is a permit issued to her non-archeologist husband, John) was not evident. What is clear from Dorothy Keur's application file is that its approval was recommended by the Smithsonian Institution (Abbot 1935) and also by the Departmental Consulting Archeologist, Jesse Nusbaum, in early June 1935 (Nusbaum 1935d). The Keurs planned to travel to the Laboratory of Anthropology in late May 1935 and asked that approval, if granted, be sent to them in the Southwest, care of Nusbaum. Whether or not this particular project was launched, Dorothy Keur later completed extensive archeological work in the late 1930s and early 1940s at Big Bead Mesa, northeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico (Keur 1941). Big Bead Mesa is now protected by the Bureau of Land Management (James 1988).

The research efforts of these pioneering women reflect the growing intellectual independence of American women in the early twentieth century. Previously, women became involved with archeology through philanthropic efforts, provided support for legislation through existing professional clubs and organizations, and assisted their spouses in the field and laboratory. However, the Antiquities Act permits allowed female archeologists the opportunity to explore the cultural and architectural wonders of America. The permits issued to female applicants in the 1930s reveal a diversity of interests and various accomplishments. De Laguna conducted the majority of her work in Alaska outside the typical southwestern perimeters, while Hawley combined necessary field skills with then uncommon statistical mastery and specialized scientific analysis. Their work and other attempts made in the 1930s established a place for women in archeological research and represent the pioneer roles played by women directly involved in the Department of the Interior’s archeology program.

Applicants from Abroad

In addition to the applications received from throughout the United States, several applications were received from foreign countries. The rich cultural and natural resources of the American southwest attracted worldwide attention through exhibitions, such as the Columbian Historical Exposition held in Madrid in 1892, and applicants applied from Russia, France, Germany, Denmark, Canada and Sweden.

Foreign excavators were not new on the public lands of the United States. In 1891, one of the first foreign excavators to visit southwestern archeological sites, Gustav Nordenskiold, arrived in Mancos, Colorado, and proceeded to excavate sites such as Painted Kiva House and Long House at Mesa Verde (Bauer 1991; Lee 1970/2001; Nordenskiold 1893; Wegner 1980). Although this Swedish excavator conducted his work with exemplery professionalism for his time (Fowler 2000:189-192; Howard and Hamilton [n.d.]; McNitt 1966; Nordenskiold 1893), the export of ancient American artifacts to foreign soil upset a great many Americans and spurred efforts for antiquities protection (Elliott 1995; Lee 1970/2001; Wegner 1980).

Shortly after the Antiquities Act passed, the Department of the Interior began to receive permit applications from foreign individuals and organizations. Perhaps the protection provided by the Act made archeologists and Department of the Interior employees less apprehensive of foreign requests. In June 1908, the first Antiquities Act permit was issued to a foreign applicant from Russia. Vladimir Jochelson, a representative of the Imperial Geographical Society of Russia and former Siberian leader for Franz Boas' Jessup North Pacific Expedition in 1898 (Dzeniskevich and Pavlinsksia 1988), proceeded to the Aleutian Islands to conduct archeological field work and socio-cultural anthropological studies for his country. The collection, if one was made, was to be housed in the Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia (Interior 1908a).

Archeological materials were not the only southwestern items drawing attention. Along with the domestic craze for petrified wood in the 1910s, representatives from two foreign institutions requested Departmental permission to have samples shipped overseas. Both W. Theile (University of Strassburg) and Alfred LaCroix (Museum of Natural History, Paris) visited the area surrounding the Petrified Forest and collected samples of petrified wood. However, both gentlemen were unable to transport the specimens without securing the requisite Antiquities Act permit. Through overseas correspondence, both samples were shipped under that the conditions the specimen weighed less than five hundred pounds and were collected from outside the Petrified Forest’s boundaries (Interior 1913a, 1913b).

Additional permits issued to overseas applicants were either to survey, study, or excavate in Alaska or to conduct paleontological research and collection within the boundaries of Indian reservations in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. As with the female applicants, foreign interests were diverse. The studies by the Danish National Museum, the University of Upsala, and the Royal Ontario Museum of Paleontology resulted in a greater worldwide appreciation of the natural and cultural wonders of the American West and the vastness of a distant and not well explored Alaska.

Field Activity and Responsibilities

The 1910s through 1930s represent an era when some of American archeology’s earliest and most famous projects were launched at Mesa Verde, Pecos and Chaco Canyon. Archeological research conducted on federal lands at the beginning of the twentieth century continues to benefit and educate the American people in several ways. The carefully excavated artifacts from these field projects are useful to modern researchers. The American public benefits by the expansion of their knowledge of archeology through both permanent and changing museum displays and exhibitions. Architectural repair work from the early twentieth century has provided generations of national park and monument visitors with an opportunity to view structures that otherwise might have been destroyed (e.g., Fewkes 1909, 1911; Matero 1999). Today they inform both visitors and experts about ancient and modern repair work on historic masonry structures. Excavations reports and photos from classic studies open an exciting window into popular field techniques and the cultural landscape as it appeared almost a century ago.

The Projects

Antiquities Act permits granted during the period of 1907-35 encompassed a wide range of archeological activities. Archeological projects ranged from major excavations over multiple years at sites such as Aztec Ruin (Morris 1926) and Chetro Ketl at Chaco Canyon (Hewett 1920) to simpler requests by the American Scenic and Preservation Society in 1907 to photograph ancient ruins on federally owned and controlled land (Interior 1907). Requests to survey new land containing unspoiled ruins and to collect surface artifacts on public land were common. More specific requests asked permission to dig small test pits into refuse heaps and trash dumps located at Pueblo Bonito (Nelson 1926). One such limited testing project, requested by the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, resulted in excavated test trenches and an archeological survey at Antelope Mesa on the Hopi Indian Reservation in north central Arizona. This was the first year of the Awatovi Expedition, in preparation for more extensive work. Investigators hoped additional studies would shed light on the cultural sequence of the people who had occupied the area and show “the diffusion and interrelation of culture groups during this period" (Scott 1935).

Although some of the earliest archeological excavations involved ruins reconstruction (Fewkes 1909), the need for repair and stabilization of crumbling ruins at increasingly popular national parks and monuments became more urgent. It was often reported to the Department that "apparently well preserved and unusually interesting ruins have been excavated and then abandoned without any measures taken to prevent their subsequent destruction by the elements" (Sherman 1932). Projects specifically seeking to restore crumbling structures on federal land were issued by the Department of the Interior, but all applicants were instructed to take any measures possible to uphold the existing structural integrity of the ruins surrounding their project areas.

By the 1930s, the National Park Service began ruins stabilization activities and programs that still exist today. Workmen, including many Native Americans and public works laborers, began projects to strengthen and preserve existing walls at Park Service sites such as Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl. National Park Service projects concentrated on stabilizing and reinforcing existing walls with modern materials, not on attempts to completely rebuild the structures (Lister and Lister 1981:119). At the same time as the repair projects were becoming more commonplace, Dorothy Keur's husband, John, was granted a permit to document the architectural achievements at Chaco Canyon. Simultaneously, the Department of the Interior had approved projects that both documented the archeological ruins found within the national monuments prior to their total destruction and concentrated upon the stabilization and salvage of existing ruins.

Archeological projects and investigations of ancient Native American remains were not the only undertakings requiring the approval of the Department of the Interior. The Antiquities Act also included the protection of "other objects of historic and scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the government of the United States." Within a year of the Department of the Interior’s issuance of its initial permit to Edgar L. Hewett, representing the Archeological Institute of America, paleontologists sought their own "antiquities" in the form of dinosaur bones and petrified wood samples. Several institutions including Brown University, Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art, the Kansas Academy of Science, and the University of Michigan focused their efforts and resources on areas rumored to contain magnificent specimens of enormous ancient reptiles.

On November 9, 1908, W. J. Holland, Director of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh was granted permission from the Department (upon consultation with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs) to search for and excavate paleontological remains found on the Uintah Indian Reservation (Interior 1908b). Local Utah residents assisted the Carnegie team and led them to a quarry containing the fossilized remains of prehistoric reptiles (Holland 1912).

Almost ten years later, a crew from the Carnegie Museum returned in 1917 to the site now lying within the boundaries of the recently declared Dinosaur National Monument (Rothman 1989). Earl Douglas and an excavation crew received a permit to excavate in Uintah county for a period of six years. At the end of the 1922 field season, the Carnegie Museum had spent a large sum and had gathered an impressive collection of dinosaur specimens. The Carnegie Museum decided to cease work at Dinosaur National Monument but agreed to protect the exposed remains of a sauropodous dinosaur, Diplodocus, until a replacement excavation team was located. The following year, the Smithsonian Institution resumed excavations at the site under the direction of C. W. Gilmore, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the United States National Museum.

Additional excavators of dinosaur remains explored sites such as Catlow cave in Oregon and loci such as the Blackfeet Reservation in Wyoming. Permits issued under the Antiquities Act enabled the Royal Ontario Museum of Palaeontology (Toronto, Canada) to explore Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota in 1929. The American Museum of Natural History returned to Arizona in the late 1920s, and C. C. O’Hara of the South Dakota School of Mines launched additional projects on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. In all during this period, 64 permits were issued for paleontological fieldwork on United States public lands.

Site Location

Institutions and individuals excavating sites under Department of the Interior permits often concentrated their studies in specific regions at sites that are now well-known to American archeologists and tourists. The most frequently investigated regions included the southwestern Four Corners states, along the West Coast, and eventually northward into Alaska. Applicants for permits hailed from throughout the United States and from overseas nations, but the permit files examined for this study contained no requests to excavate further east than South Dakota. Throughout the 1907-35 period, Department of the Interior Antiquities Act permit applicants requested permits to study in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Oregon and Wyoming attracted only paleontologists and fossil collectors. Arizona and New Mexico were the most desirable settings for Antiquities Act permits in the early decades of the twentieth century. Of a total of 338 permits granted for this twenty-eight year period, over half of the excavations, surveys, reconnaissance and ruins stabilization took place in these two states.

Neil Judd's work (Judd 1925, 1954, 1964) at Pueblo Bonito from 1921 to 1927, A. V. Kidder’s exploration of Pecos from 1915 through 1929 with an interruption for World War I (Kidder 1920, 1923, 1926), and Earl Douglas’ work in Dinosaur National Monument from 1917 to 1922 required as many as five renewals of the original permit before these projects were completed. However, most investigators submitted modest applications for work in the remaining states. Sites in Utah and Colorado appealed equally to both archeologists and paleontologists who had learned of archeological sites and dinosaur bones at national monuments such as Dinosaur, Yucca House, and Hovenweep. Through the 1910s and 1920s eastern institutions continued to pursue their archeological investigations in New Mexico and Arizona while newer western establishments protected their own interests and local ancient history.

Fluctuations in Field Activity

Excavations approved through the Department of the Interior permit process generally increased steadily from 1907 into the 1930s. The Department of the Interior issued the first permit to Edgar L. Hewett, affiliated with the Archaeological Institute of America, on August 6, 1907, just weeks following the initial application (Figure 1). In addition to two permits issued to Hewett and the Archaeological Institute of America, the American Scenic and Preservation Society and an individual named Charles H. Auld submitted applications in 1907 Auld's application was denied. The number of permit applications and approvals continued to rise. Nine were issued in 1908, and nine more applications were received in 1909. Application activity as documented by the Department of the Interior collection held at the archives at NARA II inexplicably dropped off in the early 1910s, but numbers began to climb again by mid-decade. A record number of sixteen permits issued by the Department of the Interior was reached in 1916.

World War I interrupted the increase in the number of permit applications. Alhough permit applications continued to be filed throughout 1917, a few applicants expressed the possibility that their work might be delayed due to war commitments. Jesse Nusbaum, future Superintendent of Mesa Verde National Monument and Department Archeologist, was one such applicant. In 1917, he planned to accompany members of the Heye Foundation of the Museum of the American Indian to Canyon de Chelly (Interior 1917b) for a major excavation at the site. However, a letter report submitted to the Department of the Interior explained, “because of circumstances incident to the war, which made it impossible for the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, to enlist the services of Mr. Jesse L. Nusbaum owing to the need of holding himself in readiness for military duty” the permit went unused (Interior 1917c). Permits granted by the Department of the Interior plummeted in 1918 to one of the lowest levels of the three decade period. Only four projects were launched by the American Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Institution of Washington, the Bureau of American Ethnology, and the Museum of the American Indian. Large institutions continued their excavations despite the complications that world events had imposed upon smaller establishments in the country.

The number of excavation applications quickly increased after the war. Throughout the 1920s, Antiquities Act applications and permits once again began a gradual and fluctuating rise to the highs of the mid-1910s. Large ruins repair projects and the growth of western academic and museum institutions renewed an interest World War I had interrupted. The National Geographic Society emerged as a major East Coast sponsor, conducting multi-year excavations in the southwest. The University of Arizona (Byron Cummings) expanded work on the Navajo Reservation and the School of American Research (Edgar L. Hewett) increased its investigations at Chaco Canyon.

The 1930s represented a period of constant growth and expansion with the issuance of Antiquities Act permits. For the first time since the Antiquities Act passage, there was an administrative structure to handle permit applications more efficiently. As described above, the Department of Interior could look to Jesse Nusbaum who began in 1927 to serve as the Department Archeologist. In this role he provided direct professional review of permit applications as well as periodic inspections of field investigations (McManamon and Browning 1999).

The fluctuations in activity that were common in the early years of the Antiquities Act permit process are apparent in Table 1. The inconsistent trends of the 1910s eventually gave way to regular and continued growth of an increasingly professional American archeology. Department Archeologist Nusbaum found himself busy monitoring the permit activity spread throughout an increasingly large area of the country in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Permit activity for the Department in the late 1920s surpassed all previous years. On the eve of a new era characterized by public works archeology projects and overshadowed by economic hardship, the annual permit application numbers peaked at 32 in 1931.

Reporting on Excavations

Proponents of the Antiquities Act and the permit system did not limit their efforts to the protection and preservation of archeological sites in situ and the curation of artifacts and records in public museums. They also wished to ensure professionalism and technical competence in the conduct of investigators. All federally approved researchers were obligated by the conditions of their Antiquities Act permits:

at the close of each season's field work...[to] report in duplicate to the Smithsonian Institution, in such form as its secretary may prescribe, and shall report in duplicate a catalogue of the collections and the photographs made during the season, indicating therein such material, if any, as may be available for exchange (43 CFR 3.10).

The purpose underlying the rules and regulations of Section 3.10 was the creation of a lasting written record of materials collected from public land and the scientific analyses and methods used by American excavators. Without the careful excavation and documentation required in the regulation, the artifacts collected under permit would have differed little from those more haphazardly removed by casual collectors, looters, and vandals. However, in the 1920s, Department Archeologist Jesse Nusbaum found many permitees had not filed reports with the Department in the early years of the Antiquities Act implementation. Some had published findings in scholarly journals, but failed to identify with any clarity what collections resulted from the projects, what photos of the work were taken, and exactly what actions were taken at the site.

The failure to file reports and subsequently publish articles upon completion of a field project was clearly a problem (Nusbaum 1929, 1930, 1931). Perhaps the permit process had been growing too rapidly and had become too great a burden for the clerks to effectively enforce the requirement of excavation reports. The assignment of an archeologist in the Department to renew permit applications, conduct field checks on investigators, and monitor site protection efforts boosted the federal government's ability to monitor the administrative aspects of the Antiquities Act permit process. A significant increase in the number of reports filed coincided with the assignment of Nusbaum to this new function. The administrative record of permit activity documents that letters were sent out to individuals in charge of projects and their institutions, universities, and museums if draft reports were not received with a few weeks of field season completion. More often, the applicant would request a renewal for the original permit without having first submitted a report from the previous season. Approval of any renewal request was delayed until either the Department of the Interior received a report or a letter of explanation as to why a report was not filed.

Jesse Nusbaum played a vital role in improving adherence to the rules and regulations (McManamon and Browning 1999). Nusbaum required that excavators document their findings and in the process promoted professionalism. In the annual reports prepared by Nusbaum, the topic of report submission to the Department and the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution received attention each year. Researchers and the Department of the Interior administration were in more direct and professional contact, which allowed greater supervision of Antiquities Act projects during the 1930s.

An administrative insistence upon compliance with 43 CFR 3.10 resulted in a Department of the Interior record of associated reports and documentation of early archeological activity on the public domain. Style and content of the reports varied greatly depending on the individual researcher preparing the document. Many are mere letter reports stating problems that delayed or prevented work. Others provide specific details of the excavations, site locations, and artifacts recovered complete with photographs and collection inventories. Applicants from larger and well-known universities and museums published additional follow-up articles in popular and professional journals, such as Art and Archeology, American Anthropologist, and Science, as well as the Bureau of American Ethnology Reports and Bulletins.

Department of the Interior records at the NARA II facility contain 116 reports resulting from archeological activity on public land. A report was produced for roughly one out of three permits issued (see Appendix C for a list of available reports from this period). More than 70 percent of the reports on file with the Department were submitted after Nusbaum was appointed as Department Archeologist. Prior to 1927, the Department appears to have had much less effective results mandating the responsible, professional behavior of publication and dissemination of knowledge in the developing field of archeology.

The original site excavation reports produced as a result of the Antiquities Act provide primary information sources often not included in published articles. The specifics of individual projects that began scientific archaeological excavation at world-renowned sites such as Mesa Verde's Spruce Tree House (Fewkes 1909), Canyon de Chelly’s White House Ruin (Morris 1926), and many others were recorded in careful detail. Site reports and associated publications available from the period allow present day researchers not only access to the past, but also a window to the techniques, methods, and theories adopted by researchers working more than fifty years ago.

Trouble in the Field

Conflicts between individual researchers and the continued plundering of archeological resources provided new, as well as recurrent challenges in implementing the Antiquities Act. Professional academic and museum competition over newly discovered sites sometimes increased tensions between scientific investigators and encouraged looters to pillage sites before the proper excavation of cultural artifacts. Federal officials were aware of these problems and monitored them, but addressed the problems with only mixed success.

Regionalism and Depositories

Western residents and archeologists had long been protective of the antiquities and natural wonders dotting the regional landscape. Archeologists, such as Edgar Hewett and Byron Cummings, left opportunities in the east behind and established western centers of archeological research, collection, and display. The large scale collection and transfer of southwestern antiquities to distant museum and universities in New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. angered some residents of the western states. Heated disagreements developed over the proper geographic depository of artifacts. Contention between east and west motivated a counter-movement among westerners to compete with the wealthy East Coast philanthropic collectors (see Fowler 1999; Hinsley 1986, 1996; Patterson 1995).

Hewett was an effective and influential advocate for the passage of the Antiquities Act. Even as the final, ultimately successful legislative push for passage of the Act was underway (Thompson 2000b), he began to lobby for the formation of a research institution in the Southwest that "for some decades had provided a good hunting grounds for northeastern archeologists and ethnologists" (Hinsley 1986:219). In 1907, Hewett was appointed the Director of the School of American Archaeology of the Archeological Institute of America (Walter 1947). As director, Hewett worked with many younger archeologists who shared his opinions about maintaining a link between the environment in which the artifacts were found and where they ought to be on display. One of the individuals to rally on behalf of western institutions with Hewett in these years immediately following the Antiquities Act’s passage was Byron Cummings. Cummings was at this time Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Utah (Willey 1988).

In August 1909, while Cummings was working under a federally approved Antiquities Act permit along part of the San Juan drainage (in northern Arizona and southern Utah), officials of the Smithsonian Institution interrupted his field investigation. Cummings’ party was instructed to leave the area because all materials in this pristine, undisturbed site were reserved for the Smithsonian collections in Washington, D.C. (Cummings 1909a). W. B. Douglass, U. S. Examiner of Surveys for the General Land Office (GLO), opposed the permits issued to the University of Utah. Apparently, Douglass' goal was to keep all artifacts from the newly established Navajo National Monument in the hands of the national government at the Smithsonian (Jett 1992; Rothman 1993).

In a letter of protest to First Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Frank Pierce, Cummings expressed his frustration with the situation:

[the] Smithsonian already has the best material from Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah stored away in its cellars in such quantities that half of it can never be put on exhibition or made available for study. . . .Why should not the West and western institutions have the benefit of at least part of these things that belong to this own region? The West should not always be a mere feeder for the rest of the country (Cummings 1909a).

Cummings’ frustration reflected other regional concerns which led to concerted efforts to establish museums at western universities to share the artifacts with the local citizenry as well as attract potential students (Cummings 1909b). Upon application, the University of Utah museum was authorized in October, 1909 to become an official depository of artifacts for the collections made by Hewett and Cummings in the previous seasons and those yet to come. A western institution had achieved permission to maintain an archeological collection, to proceed towards displaying antiquities, and tell the story of the ancient people of the Southwest in a native environment. Despite previous entanglements, Cummings maintained a perspective that encouraged cooperation and civility between eastern and western researchers (Cummings 1909c) since any newly discovered information was of benefit to all. Ultimately, both parties united in an arrangement motivated by pragmatism and diplomacy (Jett 1992:15; Rothman 1993) and the existing Antiquities Act permits were not cancelled.

In the meantime, Hewett was busy between conducting his field research through the newly designated AIA School of American Archaeology and searching for a suitably permanent location for the transient research institution. The school had been seeking a permanent location for almost two years (Forrest 1965:146; Sheftel 1979) when Alice Fletcher offered assistance. Fletcher had a long association with the region as an associate of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, a government consultant on American Indian affairs, and a long time advocate for antiquities preservation in the Southwest (Claassen 1994; Rossiter 1982). Several other important friends and colleagues from surrounding states supported the idea of a permanent home for the research institution and site of a field museum (Chauvenet 1983). The location ultimately chosen was Santa Fe, New Mexico (Fowler 1999; Hinsley 1986; Walter 1947).

In 1909, efforts to establish the Museum of New Mexico in the "Palace of the Governors" building in Santa Fe were rewarded. The School of American Archeology and the Territorial Historical Society found a home for research and preservation of archeological and ethnological collections in a three hundred-year-old structure built by order of the Spanish Crown (Chauvenet 1983:77; Forrest 1965:146; Hinsley 1986:221; Sheftel 1979). In one year, the west had secured the establishment of two major depositories to store, study, and display the artifacts their excavations were uncovering. Hewett had accomplished his goal of taking “advantage of local enthusiasm, regional pride, important individuals egos and the untrained ardent talent” (Hinsley 1986:219) to establish a major western archeological center.

Newly formed western establishments continued to emerge throughout the 1910s and into the 1930s. They launched large-scale research projects of sizeable scientific importance to equal their eastern counterparts. By 1915, Byron Cummings had relocated to the University of Arizona where he both headed the Department of Anthropology and the Arizona State Museum and continued his fieldwork on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Harold Colton and his wife began building a collection for the Museum of Northern Arizona in the late 1920s. Beginning in 1926, Harold S. Gladwin and Winifred Jones MacCurdy (later to become Mrs. Winifred Gladwin in 1933) began a five year project to restore ruins at Gila Pueblo, Arizona (Haury 1985; Rohn 1973).

Following Hewett's lead to keep regionally significant cultural and archeological material in local repositories accessible to western residents, new institutions considerably decreased the removal and shipment of antiquities to distant locations. Increasingly, archeological collections made throughout the West remained in community, state, and regional museums for the appreciation and education of the local people. These collections also enticed increasing numbers of tourists to visit western sites and not just go to East Coast museum displays and exhibitions.

Ceaseless Vandalism

The destruction and looting of antiquities for sale and trade on the expanding antiquities market continued despite increased numbers of official and professional field researchers, more federal employees in agencies such as the National Park Service, and greater contact between museum and university archeologists and Department personnel. The federal legal protection afforded by the Antiquities Act was not enforced effectively. For more than two decades after 1906, there is no evidence that a single individual was been prosecuted for violating the provisions of the Antiquities Act. In early investigations, collections were confiscated, but remained in the custody of the individual western residents who illegally removed them until final arrangements for transfer to federal agencies could be made (Frazier 1932a, 1932b).

G. G. Frazier, a field agent for the GLO, filed a memo in 1932 explaining his work investigating "ruin trespasses" and the seizure of illegally obtained objects of antiquities from federal land. Frazier's work suggested a different approach that might be taken by the Department of the Interior with regard to violations of the Antiquities Act. Violations appear to have been forwarded to Frazier beginning in the 1930s. By 1932, nine Antiquities Act violations had reached Frazier's desk for investigation. He reported on each case individually and the results of cases in Wayne County, Utah and TuWeep Valley, Arizona were found in the NARA II permit files (Frazier 1932a, 1932b).

Two distinct opinions regarding the Antiquities Act violations were developing on the West and East Coasts. Assistant Geologist Frazier argued that factors including religion, commercialism, excavations on private lands, and bitterness over the shipping of western treasures to non-local museums impeded present and future enforcement of the Antiquities Act (Frazier 1932c).

To address the problem of bitterness and foster the support of local communities in the protection of antiquities, Julian Steward at the University of Utah and Jesse Nusbaum as the Department Consulting Archeologist and Director of the Laboratory of Anthropology agreed upon a solution that was submitted to the Department. Steward suggested materials seized during these illegal excavations be placed in "branch museums."

Holders of the principal collections should be notified that their specimens are subject to seizure unless they are willing to cooperate in such a way as to preserve the specimens for the best scientific and educational purposes (Steward 1933).

Artifacts would continue to be available in branch museums for the enjoyment of local residents while being curated to ensure their preservation for the future. Both men agreed that institutions in the Southwest, if approved by the Department, would be preferable and more useful for determining prehistoric data regarding the area concerned. Education about the value of archeology through museum displays and continued postings of the Antiquities Act on federal lands were considered means of curbing the escalating violations.

The Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution had another opinion. In a letter dated April 14, 1933, Secretary Abbot expressed serious doubts concerning the effectiveness of the proposed branch museums to the Secretary of the Interior. Rather than establishing field museums in small towns with only several hundred residents, Abbot proposed a seizure of the collections and shipment of them either to the Laboratory of Anthropology or the United States National Museum, unless firm plans to construct the proposed local museums already existed (Abbot 1933). In Abbot’s opinion, the problem of antiquities looting and trafficking would be most easily halted through the confiscation of all illegally obtained specimens.

The Department's position on the matter of seizure and transfer to the United States National Museum and the confiscation of materials and their investigation and display in the Southwest was described in a memo and letter written in April and May 1933 respectively. Jesse Nusbaum was authorized under Section 16 of the rules and regulations of the Antiquities Act to take possession of the materials illegally excavated from federal land of the Department of the Interior (Chapman 1933). Materials would be studied and displayed at the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe. The Department hoped that confiscation would bring about a speedy reduction in illegal activity. Additionally, future violations of the Antiquities Act could now be reported to Archie D. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cases of violation could then be presented to the United States Attorney for prosecution, if enough evidence could be secured to proceed (Glavis 1933). Despite the fact that agents from the GLO of the Department of the Interior were now investigating cases of looting and vandalism on federal land, no violations were reviewed by the U. S. Attorney during the first thirty years of the twentieth century. In fact, the prosecution of Antiquities Act violations continued to be extremely rare for more than sixty years after the Act passed (McGimsey 1976).

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