Returning the Stolen Artifacts

As a young boy, Donald H. Miller of Orange Township in Rush County, Indiana had enjoyed digging up arrowheads, military uniform-buttons, and whatever else he could find from the past. It did not make any difference what time-period and apparently it made no difference to him if there was probable ownership or property rights attached to his finds.

Don Miller W9NTP-th

Donald H. Miller

Don Miller enrolled in engineering school prior to joining the U.S. Army Reserves in the 1940’s. He was later assigned to a Special Engineer Detachment in Los Alamos, NM, reaching Technician 4th Grade inside the Manhattan Project. But if you think that is an intriguing perhaps fantastical tidbit, wait until the FBI raids, investigates, and uncovers items inside his home-basement and amateur museum in April 2014. They find at least 42,000 rare and not-so-rare historical artifacts from numerous cultures around the globe. His and his wife’s collection included:

 

  • Two (believed) large dinosaur eggs laid in China
  • A wooden cowbell from Tibet
  • Over 300 arrowheads from the Western United States
  • An old dugout canoe from the Amazon River used by indigenous natives
  • An 1873 Winchester carbine believed to be used by a Sioux warrior in the Battle of Little Big Horn
  • Primitive axes carried by indigenous Indians of New Guinea
  • Spent bullet-casings from Civil War battlegrounds
  • Pre-Colombian pottery
  • Ming Dynasty jade
  • An Egyptian sarcophagus
  • A 1927 Wurlitzer pipe-organ Don would play for visitors

These were just a few of the artifacts the FBI crime detectives found in Mr. Miller’s home. What they also discovered that was not visible to visitors of his collection were around 2,000 human bones representing about 500 human beings, all of which are believed to be stolen from sacred Native American burial grounds.

Human skeletal remains that have been dug up from a shallow grave

Human remains found in Miller’s home

Don and wife Sue Miller were very active in their local church and foreign missionary work from the 1960’s into the late 1980’s then becoming short-term consultants for construction-missionary trips abroad. The couple was so serious about their missionary work and giving out Bibles to the locals that they organized Building for God International in 1979 in order to take advantage of America’s tax-exemptions, right-offs and religious traveling expenses. They also would host in their home pastors and their families from the foreign church congregations they had built. Yet, with so much concern about reaching international people in foreign lands with their personal ideology and controversial belief-system, Don and Sue seemed completely oblivious to the ethical and moral, let alone legal implications of filling their Waldron, Indiana home with precious and sacred artifacts and the remains of 500 human beings with family descendants.

Dark Rain Thom, a Shawnee descendant who served on the Indiana Native American Indian Affairs Commission under three governors, said the motives of such collectors vary, and that it’s not uncommon for collections to come to light when an elderly person dies and descendants try to figure out what to do with artifacts.

Often, she said, family members then quietly donate them to museums or arrange to return them to specific tribes — if that provenance can be determined.

Some collectors are motivated by money, as the artifacts’ sale can be lucrative, Thom said. But others with interests in archaeology or anthropology are motivated by a desire to understand the development of a culture through its art items and everyday implements. And others, Thom said, are in it for the thrill of discovery.
Indystar.com Thousands of artifacts removed from rural Indiana home” by Diana Penner, accessed March 5, 2019

But the fact remains, Don Miller was not a licensed, professional, or even sanctioned guest archaeologist or anthropologist with any university or society in the world. He was a self-proclaimed historian and museum curator of his own stolen property and appointed by his God as an earnest missionary doing his God’s work. He was not always given proper access or any permission to go into certain sites, much less leave the country with artifacts. This is the mind-boggling, appalling self-perception Donald Miller had of himself.

The FBI have already returned artifacts to Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, New Zealand and Spain to date, and about 360 artifacts have been repatriated to China. In 1979 the Archaeological Resources Protection Act forbade any sales, purchase, exchange, transport, or receipt of artifacts. In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law protecting cultural and natural resources in the U.S. And in 1990 the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was signed into law making it illegal to buy or sell Native American remains. Over the course of his accumulation of items Don Miller purchased many, if not most of his artifacts, as well as illegally obtained and illegally brought them into the United States.

Why would someone who supposedly believes in saving non-American sinners in order for souls to leave our dead decaying human bodies and tombs for eternal life want with 2,000 bones of 500 humans? Why would a man who served in the U.S. military and took part in the Manhattan Project that ended WWII consciously and willingly break the very laws he vowed to fight for? What could possibly convince a man that what he was illegally amassing in his “basement museum” was even remotely ethical and meant (in his mind) for human prosperity, let alone his God’s will?

Donald Miller died in 2015 without any repercussions of his illicit crimes; never tried, fined, or punished. The FBI investigation and repatriation of artifacts from Miller’s home continues to this day.

Share your thoughts below about this bizarre man, his integrity, his religious beliefs and activity, and whether or not he provided any lasting legacy for future generations.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Color Color Color is a Comin’

To human eyes there are some 7-10± million different colors in the color-spectrum the eyes can process through various ophthalmological stages for the brain to interpret. Even though there are seemingly that many hues of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, the visibility and tidal wave of so many colors depends on the amount of sunlight available reflecting off of everything we gaze upon. But here’s another delightful twist to our fondness for nature’s bursts upon her color-palate:  rainfall. Yes, water plays a huge role in the chances of what we might possibly see and perceive on her outdoor canvas.

There are other variables involved, not excluding warmer temperatures, shorter winters, and in the western United States wildfires prior to saturating rains, that have prepared for this 2019 Spring to probably be the best super bloom of germination, eye-popping stimulation surpassing the last two remarkable spring seasons! California’s super blooms are well-known nationally. This year Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas—to name just three more states—will join in these showstopping color festivals visible even from space. Care to get a quick glimpse of what splashes and vistas we are likely about to witness over several states?

 

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On a cellular biological level it continues to dazzle me how given enough time life adapts in order to not only survive, but thrive and do so with such spectacular beauty. And think of how busy all of the thousands and thousands of different pollinators, butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, snapdragons, even ants to name only five, as part of a grande symphonic crescendo to masterpiece and finale. Each instrument contributes their important part to this extravaganza of biological flora we call life, a super bloom enmasse, the Super Bloom of 2019. I wish the show lasted longer than a few weeks because all this botanical beauty does my mind and body a world of good!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Want To Time-Travel?

I just have to share this! Quick time-out during my Black Underworld, Inc. series.

This fascinating time-traveling machine or rather software app actually doesn’t travel forward into the future, but it will take you as many as 750-million years into the geologic past from our current Holocene period to the Cryogenian period from any known address on Earth. Dial up your time-destination on the Delorean circuit-board, pull down your welding goggles, and fasten your seat-belt. It’s off to Pangea we go.

I can think of a number of blogging friends that might enjoy fiddling around with this cool app:  John Z, Arkenaten, IBTD, Nan, CommonAtheist, SecularJurist, Steve, Tildeb, Swarn, and perhaps too the magnana-wonderous Lady Esme and a few others and maybe (if my message in a bottle reaches him 😉 ) just maybe the castaway Hariod. I also know of some bloggers who would not enjoy the app or its implications—it flies in the face of their Young Earth and Creationist delusions beliefs. Oh well, can’t please everyone, huh? WHAAH… WATCH OUT! That Velociraptor is trying to eat your baby in the manger! 😱

Silliness aside. On to the science. With the address, region, or city you type in the interactive Ancient Earth tool will inform you of nearby dinosaur fossils from that geologic period. You can also select particular organisms-of-life periods such as the “first insects,” or “first dinosaurs” or “first multicellular life.” As you select one of 26 different time-periods you can watch the shorelines move inland or out based upon sea levels relative to glaciers and the polar ice-caps at that time. I discovered this app by my email subscription to Smithsonian.com and arts-science journalist Meilan Solly writes:

Ancient Earth, the tool behind this millennia-spanning visualization, is the brainchild of Ian Webster, curator of the world’s largest digital dinosaur database. As Michael D’estries reports for Mother Nature Network, Webster drew on data from the PALEOMAP Project—spearheaded by paleogeographer Christopher Scotese, the initiative tracks the evolving “distribution of land and sea” over the past 1,100 million years—to build the map. […]

To switch from one time period to another, you can either manually choose from a dropdown menu or use your keyboard’s left and right arrow keys. Start at the very beginning of the map’s timeline, Michele Debczak advises for Mental Floss, and you’ll see the planet evolve from “unrecognizable blobs of land” to the massive supercontinent of Pangea and, finally, the seven continents we inhabit today.

Take about 10-minutes and go play around at Ancient Earth and get an approximate intriguing visual of just how our tectonic plates have evolved and just how much NOTHING on this planet stays the same for one year or one minute. It hasn’t for at least the last 4.5 billion years!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

Creative Commons License
Blog content with this logo by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://professortaboo.com/contact-me/.