By Helen O'Neill
But laws can't change attitudes or traditions, or make much of a dent in the thriving black market where prehistoric Indian artifacts can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. And in the vast cliffs and mesas of the Four Corners region, where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico intersect, where a handful of rangers from the National Parks Service and the Bureau of Land Management oversee millions of acres, enforcement is practically impossible.
Archeologists like Hurst say it's up to them to try and educate people, to change "hearts and minds." But there are many who believe the arrests have only hardened the very hearts and minds that need to change.
"I'm not against them enforcing the laws, but why do they have to kill us at the same time," says Austin Lyman, a case worker at the senior center, who has vehement opinions about the raids, and his own unique way of expressing them:
"Like Jackals from hell they came,
With bullet proof vests and guns,
They came to arrest old men."
Lyman, a burly, ruddy-faced man of 62, penned "Paradise Has Been Raided Again" on June 10, the day of the raids. He reads it aloud, eyes burning, voice cracking with emotion.
In his gallery in Bluff, 25 miles south of Blanding, Curtis Yanito delicately polishes a traditional, handcrafted cedar flute as he ponders the past and the people who want to own it.
Soft-spoken and deliberate, the 42-year-old Navajo artist has no sympathy for pot-hunters or collectors or even archeologists. He is impatient with those who argue that digging used to be legal; slavery was once legal, too, he says.
Yanito's gallery is filled with beautifully crafted contemporary pieces--traditional blankets and bowls, sand paintings and jewelry, most of it handmade by Yanito's extended family. There are no prehistoric pots or arrowheads. Yanito wouldn't dream of entering a ruin.
"The cliff dwellings are ALL grave sites and everyone knows that," he says. "The dead should be left alone."
Lyman's phrase "kill us" apparently is Blanding-speak for "shame us into committing suicide over our sins." Because the two losers who killed themselves are the only ones who died during this sequence of events.
Clearly Lyman is against the feds enforcing the laws, since that's all they did. Like every other hypocrite is Blanding, Lyman wants to continue stealing artifacts without fear of retribution.
For more on the subject, see Blanding's Criminal Culture and Looters "Outraged" Over Indictments.
Below: "This Aug. 13, 2009 photo shows Austin Lyman, 62, standing next to steps leading to an ancient Indian altar on his property near Blanding, Utah." (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)