Texas Droughts Uncovering Native American Artifacts


Historic droughts in Texas are leaving water levels in the region’s lakes, many of which are manmade, more than a dozen feet below normal. These drops in water levels are uncovering ancient artifacts, and even a Native American skull.

According to Sott.net, looters are taking advantage of the dropping water levels at Lake Whitney, which is about 50 miles south of Forth Worth, by snatching up Native American fossils and tools that date back as far as eight thousand years ago.

“The looter and scavenger comes and digs up the site,” U.S. Army Corps Engineer Brad Demsey told Sott.net. “They just destroy all that and leave it to the side.” He estimates that it’s been 20 years since the caverns where artifacts were buried have been seen.

Thirty arrests have been made and violators were put on probation and fined thousands of dollars.

The skull of a Native American man was found by fishermen at the edge of the water on Lake Georgetown in October, reported Statesman.com. The skull is being studied by anthropologists at Texas State University, and could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years old, Kate Spradley said.

Spradley, an assistant professor of anthropology at the university, pointed out distinctive male features of the skull including a brow ridge and wide cheekbones, and that a side of it is missing.

“It looks like postmortem damage, but it’s hard to tell if it was trauma associated with the death or it happened after death,” she said.

Anthropologists can’t be sure what tribe the man belonged to, and federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, won’t allow them to excavate further.

Finding Native American remains in the area isn’t uncommon—Lake Georgetown is near the famous Gault site, midway between Georgetown and Ft. Hood. Steve Black, an anthropology professor at Texas State said spear points of the Clovis people have been found at the Gault site.

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ahliss's picture
Submitted by ahliss on
How sad that people find the need to rob from these caverns and other sites. That is what has happened in Arkansas they have robbed the Native graves so they can sell artifacts at very high prices. Some of these people have shops and they sell the things they have stolen. Of course all land in Arkansas is closed now so no more robbing graves for these idiots !!!!

rezican88's picture
Submitted by rezican88 on
Is it just me, or is anybody else rather put off by the fact that ICTMN staff thought it would be a good idea to post a picture of human remains? As an archaeologist, I've learned quite a bit about NAGPRA legislation, and I've heard more than an earful from tribes pertaining to their own views on uncovering human remains. From my own experience, and based in my own spiritual beliefs, it seems wholly disrespectful and wrong to post pictures of a deceased ancestor as the headline for this story. Don't defile the sacred, what would our ancestors think?

editors's picture
Submitted by editors on
Big mistake. Apologies to all, past and present.