By Frank Lewis
Mark M. Beatty, 56, of Wellston, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to violating the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act by purchasing human remains of Native Americans. The case is the first criminal enforcement of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in the Southern District of Ohio.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Division, Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier and Rick Perkins, Chief Ranger, National Park Service at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, announced the plea entered into today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Preston Deavers.
According to court documents, individuals were observed digging in a rock shelter in Salt Creek Valley in Jackson County, Ohio. When they were approached, they ran off into the woods and left behind shovels, dirt sifters, buckets and trash. Investigators confirmed that at least two individuals were digging on the property and had unburied human remains.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Beatty admitted to purchasing those remains.
An anthropologist confirmed that the human remains were consistent with Native Americans, specifically identifiable by cradle boarding, a cultural activity used only by Native Americans in North America. The identity of the remains was also confirmed by an archaeologist, who verified that rockshelters were used extensively for burials in Southern Ohio and specifically in Jackson County.
DNA testing concluded a direct connection to present day Native Americans living in the United States today.
“We are going to continue to investigate crimes against the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” Frazier said.
The parties involved in the case have agreed to a proposed sentence of three years of probation including three months home confinement, a $3,500 fine and restitution in the amount of $1,000 to the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, to be used for re-burial of the Native American remains. The remains will be transferred to the federally recognized tribes who have assisted with the case, and re-buried in Ohio at an undisclosed location and in private once all the court proceedings are completed.
Beatty has also agreed to publish an advertisement in a circulation warning others not to engage in illegal excavation of Native American bones and artifacts. As part of his plea, he has agreed to perform 100 hours of community service for a program that protects or promotes the interests of Native Americans.
Stewart commended the investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and FBI and the participation from an archaeologist from Wayne National Forest and researchers from Ohio University, The Ohio State University and Washington State University, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys J. Michael Marous and Brian Martinez, who are representing the United States in this case.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.