KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Missouri man and others broke into a prehistoric Native American archaeological site and used shovels, rakes and other tools to dig up artifacts, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage , according to a federal indictment.
Johnny Lee Brown, 70, of Clinton, Missouri, was charged in an 11-count indictment filed April 26 but unsealed and released on Tuesday.
The indictment alleges that Brown, two known co-conspirators, and others excavated archaeological objects on federal lands at Truman Lake near the town of Tightwad, Missouri, at least 10 times from June 2016 through September. .
The site is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and located on a peninsula. It dates from the Late Archaic period, 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. The indictment says the finds indicate it was used as a campsite, a stone processing site, or both.
The suspects allegedly used small hand trowels, shovels, rakes and hoes, as well as buckets and backpacks to carry items off the site. The indictment does not specify what Brown and the others allegedly did with the stolen items.
The illegal excavation caused more than $300,000 in damage, the US Attorney’s Office in Kansas City said. Members of the Osage Nation told federal investigators the damage “has a significant impact on the cultural history of the Osage Nation and affiliated tribes,” the indictment said.
On Wednesday, Brown’s attorney did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.