I may have unwittingly committed a federal offense this weekend

On this weekend’s motorcycle ride I pulled to the side of the road to take some pictures. As I kneeled down on the pavement to open my camera bag, I saw and collected this item: a 5/16″ Craftsman 1/4″ drive deep-well socket.

Would you like to know something silly? If you didn’t, you wouldn’t visit this blog daily. Depending on what part of the road I picked this up, and who owned it, I may have committed a federal offense. This is pursuant to the Antiquities Act of 1906, Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, and Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Here’s a sample.

For example, if I’m walking along the river or a part of the river bottoms that’s exposed by water due to this year’s drought, I don’t dare pick up anything I find. Regardless of the fact that said “artifact” may have been under water for a hundred years, and may be under water for a hundred more when/if the water comes back, I don’t dare disturb it… at the risk of a federal penalty!

I think that if the indigenous people that left tools and other things strewn all over the countryside cared at all about those “artifacts,” they would not have been left scattered about in the first place. These days it’s called “littering.”

So technically, if this was on a US (ie, federal) highway and the owner of this “tool” as termed in the ARPA 1979 is of native American descent, I’ve committed a federal offense of a most heinous nature. As for that…I’m not telling.

If you’ve ever been on federal land, you’ve probably seen these signs. I’m told that they take them quite seriously. So be careful what you pick up on federal land…if some indigenous person lays claim to it, you could find yourself in a heap of trouble.

The farm where my dad grew up has been pillaged for “artifacts” for almost 50 years. I wonder if there’s a law protecting us? There’s pretty much nothing left of the old farm implements and other items which were stored out there. Or don’t we deserve a federal regulation? Do we have no history or heritage to protect? Not according to any law I’m aware of.

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