Law

Archeological sites and objects, including those found on the surface of the ground, are protected under a number of Federal and State laws.

If you suspect a violation NEVER get involved at the scene. ALWAYS report the activity to authorities.

In Oregon, contact Dennis Griffin, State Archaeologist, regarding discovery or potential damage to archaeological sites. He can be reached at (503) 378-4168 ext. 312 or by email at dennis.griffin@state.or.us  If damage is imminent, report it to the local law enforcement agency.

In Washington, contact the Sate Historic preservation Offices (206) 586-6125, Washington State Police (360) 696-6161 or your county sheriff’s office.

Federal law: prohibits the purchase, exchange, or transportation of any archaeological object that was illegally removed from Federal, Indian, State, or private land. Removal from Federal or Indian land require a permit. A permit is required for excavation or alteration of any archaeological site, or removal of artifacts located on Federal or Indian land.

Violation of Federal Law is punishable by up to one year imprisonment and/or up to $10,000 fine if the artifact or damage is $500 or less. If the value exceeds $500, the punishment is up to two years in jail and/or up to a $250,000 for the first offense. A second offense can bring up to five years imprisonment. In addition, there can be forfeiture of all vehicles, equipment and property used plus restitution of costs needed to repair any damage done to the archaeological or historic site.

Oregon State law: prohibits the sale, purchase, trade, barter, or exchange of archaeological objects illegally removed from State public land or private land.  The sale, trade, barter, or exchange of archaeological objects is prohibited unless the purchaser is given a notarized certificate of origin. The possession, public display, or sale of Native American sacred or other special objects is also prohibited.

Oregon law prohibits the excavation, destruction, or alteration of any archaeological site or the collecting of archaeological objects, other than “an arrowhead” (one) located on State public land or private land unless a State permit and written permission from the landowner are obtained.  Collecting arrowheads on State public land or private land is prohibited if any tool is used in the activity, unless a State permit and written permission from the landowner are obtained.  The destruction or damage to any human burial, human remains, or Native American sacred (or other special) objects is prohibited unless a State permit and written permission from the landowner are obtained.

Violation of the law is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine (if the violation involves a burial, human remains or other special Native American objects).  A $250 criminal fine for all other types of violations will be imposed, plus forfeiture of all property used in the violation, and of the artifacts taken. Violators will also be liable for recovery of court costs, expert witness fees, and attorney fees.

Washington State law: Any violation of Washington State law protecting these sites that involves theft, disturbance, or damage to a Native American grave or cairn or glyptic or painted record or an historic grave is punishable as a Class C felony. A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000. All other violations are misdemeanors. Each day of continued violation constitutes a separate and distinct offense. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to ninety days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation.