Defending Cultural Heritage

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area


The faint road scar and two-track road in the distance is an access road to the power lines that destroyed many tipi rings in this area. Before 1966, sites like this were not protected during construction projects and artifact collectors stole important pieces of prehistory. Because the American public values its cultural heritage and many culturally significant sites were similarly being destroyed, the U.S. Congress created legislation to conserve significant archaeological and historical sites. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act makes it a felony under federal law to remove and/or destroy artifacts and features from archeological sites like this.

The mountains, foothills, and valleys literally show the moccasin footprints of the Ancient Ones as they passed through here, camped in temporary rock shelters, sought visions on the peaks, or lived here for some time. …Here a new breed of storytellers, the modern archaeologists, take up the task of telling the stories of the Ancient Ones. —Joseph Medicine Crow, Crow Tribal Historian and Anthropologist


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