California MD indicted for looting 30,000 tribal artifacts

Anesthesiologist Jonathan Bourne, of Mammoth Lakes, Ca., has been indicted for 21 felony counts of allegedly looting Native artifacts from private lands and national parks.

Indian Country Today shares:

"When you remove something from public lands or any land like that that's sitting there, you're not just taking an object or something," Bancroft said. "You're stealing. You're stealing from my history, from my culture. You're affecting my whole being on this planet and where I came from and how I'm connected to it."

Most people don't even know it's illegal to take the items, she said.

"It's something that I know a lot of people just can't grasp, because they talk about it like it's trash," Bancroft said. "They think they are entitled to just take anything they want. A lot of them around here are just like, 'How dare they tell me I can't go out there and pick this stuff up?' "

What sets Bourne apart is that he was so taken with his collection—authorities found 30,000 items in his possession—that he carefully documented everything. Bancroft said that although it was his undoing, it could help bring more attention to the issue overall. And serial offenders run rampant, she said.