Photo courtesy Richard Foreman Jr., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Actor Admits to Taking Native American Artifacts on Location in New Mexico

Sheena Louise Roetman

Cast and crew from the popular "Maze Runner" movie series are being asked to apologize for allegedly taking Pueblo artifacts from a filming location in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Actor Dylan O’Brien admitted to taking items from the site – after explicitly being told it was not allowed – on an episode of Live! With Kelly & Michael that aired September 15.

“It was this ancient Indian burial ground, I guess, and it hadn’t been used for filming ever before,” said O’Brien. “They gave us this big speech when we got there to shoot, and they said, basically, 'Don’t take anything. Respect the grounds.’ They were very strict about littering, and don’t take any artifacts like rocks, skulls — like, anything like that. And everyone just takes stuff, you know, obviously.”

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the shoot location was a “sacred site on a ranch near Placitas,” in northern New Mexico, though there are some conflicting reports as to whether there was a sacred site located on the ranch.

Director Wes Ball told the Radio Times “the production underwent a lot of bad luck.” In the same interview, actress Kaya Scodelario said the film was “haunted” and “cursed.”

O’Brien’s statement came in response to a question from the show’s cohost, Michael Strahan, asking why so many cast members were sick during filming, implying that the illnesses were incurred by the theft.

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“And within a week, five of our actors went down ill,” O’Brien said. “Random stuff too, random appendectomy, random 105 fever, random broken ankle …” O’Brien says he had to leave filming early due to a fever.

“Didn’t you guys see that episode of The Brady Bunch?” Kelly Rippa, Strahan’s co-host, asked, referencing the 1972 “Hawaii Bound” episode of The Brady Bunch, in which Bobby finds a doll that proves to be a “Native taboo idol of evil,” according to IMDb.

A petition asking for an apology from the cast and crew has reached 38,223 signatures on Care2.

“O'Brien, the film's director, and other crew members involved need to apologize to Pueblo tribal leaders for their behavior and return any artifacts they removed from the site,” states the petition, started by Maeve Cunningham.

Collecting and hoarding Native American artifacts is a “colonial practice that continues today,” according to Mary Pember, who authored a two-part series for ICTMN last year entitled “People of the Dirt” that deals with a large FBI bust and then explores the phenomenon of black market collecting.


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