Don’t disturb those artifacts! (And here’s why.)

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation, and Dr. Brenda Martin, Curator, Fort Collins Museum

In the first part of this post, we talked about what to do if you come across an artifact or other cultural resource while out enjoying our natural areas and open spaces in and around Fort Collins. Here are the reasons why you should not disturb them:

IT IS DISRESPECTFUL: These resources are part of the cultural legacy of people who have lived here, and leaving them alone demonstrates respect for the people who made them or owned them. It also allows others to enjoy them today and in the future. Many Native American groups with ties to this area believe that objects are still connected to the people who made them, and collecting them disrupts those connections between the present and past peoples and the land.

IT IS ILLEGAL: According to Colorado State law, it is illegal to knowingly take a single artifact, or excavate, damage, or destroy any prehistorical or historical resources on land owned by the City of Fort Collins. A person can be fined for a misdemeanor and offenders may face a fine, time in jail, or both.

IT IS A LOSS: Once an object is removed from its surroundings, it loses its ability to educate us about the past. Additionally, objects are often fragile and when people handle them they can break, or the oils and acids on our skin can permanently damage them.

REMEMBER: The most effective things you can do to help preserve our cultural heritage is to have respect for the artifacts and the people who made them, the laws protecting them, and to leave them alone if you find them. If you do find an artifact, please contact a reliable resource (such as the Fort Collins Museum at 970-221-6738) as soon as you can.


March 2009

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