Thousands Of Artifacts Seized At 91-Year-Old Indiana Man's Home
April 03, 201410:20 AM ET
FBI agents work around a home in Rush County to confiscate what the agency is calling artifacts on Wednesday.
Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star
Federal agents, art experts and museum curators descended on the home of a 91-year-old man in central Indiana on Wednesday to take control of a huge collection of artifacts from Native American,
FBI Special Agent Robert Jones told reporters that the collection's cultural value "is immeasurable," .
While officials wouldn't offer details about what they found, that thousands of artifacts were seized. The Star adds that "an FBI command vehicle and several tents were spotted at the property in rural Waldron, about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis."
The man who apparently has been collecting artifacts for about eight decades is Don Miller. He has not been arrested or charged, according to news reports. The Star writes that:
"The items were found in a main residence, in which Miller lives; a second, unoccupied residence on the property; and in several outbuildings, Jones said. The town originally was Iroquois land. The objects were not stored to museum standards, Jones said, but it was apparent Miller had made an effort to maintain them well.
"The aim of the investigation is to determine what each artifact is, where it came from and how Miller obtained it, Jones said, to determine whether some of the items might be illegal to possess privately."
Larry Zimmerman, a professor of anthropology and museum studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, tells the Star he has "never seen a collection like this in my life except in some of the largest museums."
The local newspaper, , wrote a series of stories about Miller in 2007 in which he talked about his work in 1944 and 1945 with the group that tested detonators during development of the atomic bomb.
April 3, 2014 April 3, 2014
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Pasted from <http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/03/298721814/thousands-of-artifacts-seized-at-91-year-old-indiana-mans-home>
Seriously, The FBI Devoted Massive Resources To Seize A 91-Year Old Man's Private Collection Of Artifacts?
Aerial view of FBI raid on Don Miller's residence (Star Photo/Kelly Wilkinson)
A 91-year old Rush County man's home was the scene of a massive FBI raid where agents seized more than a thousand cultural artifacts Don Miller reportedly collected over the past eight decades according to the Indianapolis Star. Miller has not been charged or arrested for committing any crime. Yet agents will spend months cataloging his cache of artifacts to determine their origins according to Robert Jones, special agent in charge of the Indianapolis office. "The monetary value of the items and relics has not been determined Jones said, but the cultural value is beyond measure. In addition to American Indian objects, the collection includes items from China, Russia, Peru, Haiti, Australia and New Guinea.," he said. We have politicians and their cronies stealing hundreds of millions of our tax dollars in plain sight, and the only thing our local FBI office has time to do is badger a 91-year old man who apparently devoted his life to collecting cultural artifacts. Is there a law against that?
UPDATE: An observant reader passes along this background information on the fascinating life of Dr. Don Miller the media reports don't mention:
A little background on Don Miller, the "artifact" collector in Waldron. Given recent developments across the pond it would appear that this old guy possessed material of extreme importance to be applied to the NATO war effort that's building up there.
Miller was an electrical genius and developed communications hardware for the MIR space station. Had a huge hand in training cosmonauts in how to use it. He was heavily involved in very high tech ham equipment and networks particularly in Russia.
The old man had a lot of things the state department wanted but illegal artifacts isn't one of them. You can rest assured that Don Miller will not say a word about anything. How would it look for a true American WWII patriot to be outed working with the Russians, even if at the time it was completely legal to do so.
Here's a link mentioning Dr. Miller's work on the MIR Russian space station.
UPDATE II: An anonymous Internet sleuth points out that Dr. Miller had created transponders used by NASA.
Most recently Dr Miller developed the technology to locate any transmitter through triangulation after the beacon has failed. This technology would be very useful say if an airplane went down and was unable to be located . . .
Looking at the photo of Dr. Miller's home it is very obvious that he installed several 40'-50' antenna towers on his property which is located out in the middle of nowhere. The FBI (or some agency) set up containment/quarantine tents all over his property and there is no identification of any particular government agencies on the vehicles on his property. I was able to locate video showing those towers being removed which would fall under the definition of artifact but weren't mentioned by reporters.
The fact that the the news doesn't mention that this man was very prominent in the development of nuclear weapons, space science, groundbreaking transponder technology, spectral analysis or the sole heir to his famous brothers research on the origins of life is wherein the truth lies.
The Internet sleuth also notes that Dr. Miller is the brother and sole heir of Dr. Stanley Miller, a world renowned chemical physicist. A website discussing Dr. Miller's research was taken down just last month. A 2007 story in the Rushville Republican discusses his role in the development of the first atomic bomb during
World War II.
Posted by Gary R. Welsh at 9:21 PM
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Shrunken heads, other artifacts found during FBI raid on Indiana home
An FBI operation at rural home in Indiana, April 2, 2014. WISH-TV
INDIANAPOLIS - FBI agents on Thursday were still removing thousands of artifacts ranging from arrowheads to shrunken heads and Ming Dynasty jade from a house in rural Indiana.
A 91-year-old man amassed the vast collection over several decades, perhaps since he began digging up arrowheads as a child.
People who had toured Donald Miller's home years before the FBI's arrival Wednesday described it as a homemade museum containing diverse items including fossils, Civil War memorabilia and what the owner claimed to be a chunk of concrete from the bunker in which Adolf Hitler committed suicide toward the end of World War II.
"It was just like a big chunk of cement from when they demolished it or whatever," said Joe Runnebohm, whose plumbing business did work in one of Miller's houses several years ago.
Agents of the FBI's art crime team began loading trucks with artifacts that Donald Miller acquired over the decades from sites as varied as China, Russia and Papua New Guinea. However, the FBI was careful not to say whether they believed Miller had knowingly broken any laws. The FBI's aim is to catalog the artifacts and return them to their countries of origin.
The laws regarding the removal or collection of cultural artifacts are extremely complex. State, federal and international laws are involved, Patty Gerstenblith, a professor of law at DePaul University in Chicago. Much depends on whether objects are considered stolen or were imported with a license, and international treaties dating back as far as 1987 come into play. The United States has various agreements with 15 countries that prohibit importation of items that were illegally acquired, she said, and some nations such as Egypt forbid the export of any cultural objects that were dug from the ground.
It wasn't immediately clear how Miller acquired some of the items, but those who know him said he had been collecting since childhood.
"He's been digging, I'm sure, since he was old enough to dig," said Andi Essex, whose business repaired water damage in Miller's basement a few years ago. None of the artifacts was damaged, she said.
Miller made no secret of his collection, those who know him said. He took schoolchildren on tours of his amateur museum, which even contained human remains, they said. A 150-foot underground tunnel linking two homes on Miller's property in a rural Indiana area whose largest city has a population of about 6,000 people, was adorned with a 60-foot, 4-foot-wide anaconda snakeskin, Runnebohm said. Carefully labeled glass showcases boasted hundreds of Native American arrowheads, along with human skulls - including one with an arrowhead stuck in it. Upstairs was a pipe organ that Miller played for visitors.
"He never tried to hide anything," Runnebohm said. "Everything he had he was real proud of, and he knew what everything was."
Pasted from <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/shrunken-heads-other-artifacts-found-during-fbi-raid-on-indiana-home/>
100 FBI Agents Raid Home of 91Year Old Indiana Collector
On April 3, 2014, close to 100 FBI agents invaded the Rush County home of a 91 year old Indiana man, Donald Miller, and seized thousands of artifacts collected over eight decades. Mr. Miller had collected objects from some 200 countries including Native American, Peruvian, Haitian, New Guinea, Australian, Chinese and other materials. No warrant has been published and no charges have been filed against Mr. Miller, a former missionary who freely shared his collection over the years with neighbors and journalists and gave tours of his museum-like home to school children and anyone else who asked. Mr. Miller denies doing anything illegal.
FBI spokesmen have not yet alleged that any law has been violated, but state that they are carefully assessing the objects to determine if they are unlawfully possessed. Retired FBI agent Virginia Curry commented on the museum-like approach Mr. Miller endeavored to maintain and called the raid, “an embarrassing and unnecessary show of force by the FBI.”
Mr. Miller is said to have been involved in atomic bomb projects when in the armed services during WW2 and worked at the Naval Avionics Center in Indianapolis in the 1970s and 1980s. He was an amateur archaeologist who made frequent trips overseas on digs, and he and his wife
In statements to the press, FBI spokesmen have incorrectly implied that private ownership by U.S. citizens of cultural artifacts from a country restricting export without a permit from that country is unlawful. Agents have stated that the goal of the seizures is to repatriate objects to source countries or tribes but have not provided any legal justification for either seizure or repatriation at this time. Since the collection was amassed over many decades, without knowing the date of import, there is no indication that objects were imported in violation of any U.S. treaty or agreement under the Cultural Property Implementation Act.
News reports indicate that Mr. Miller possessed many hundreds of Native American artifacts. Native American objects could not be lawfully taken from federal or Indian lands after passage of the American Antiquities Act in 1906, but laws against such collecting were not enforced until passage of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act in 1979. In general, federal law does not prohibit ownership even of human remains so long as they are excavated with permission on private lands, though they may not be sold.
Most collectors are aware that artifacts containing bald or golden eagle feathers may not be sold; fewer realize that it is a crime to sell, and sometimes even to possess an object decorated with feathers from the most common wild birds. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act has been strictly enforced, whereas prosecutions for trading in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a law intended to prevent baiting and over-hunting of migratory birds, are rare.
Neighbors and community residents say they are puzzled why the FBI would send a hundred agents to the home of an elderly resident who was proud of and never hid his collection. “He’s just an ordinary guy. He just loves collecting things. His house looks like something you’ve never been in. It’s just beautiful,” said local Pat Montgomery. Neighbor Andi Essex asked the press, “Why? Why? Leave him alone! He’s done so much for people.” However, in recent years, the FBI Art Crime section has engaged in similar high-profile, low-substance investigations in which seizures and vague accusations of unlawful activity made headlines but resulted in few or no convictions and other federal agencies have engaged in extra-legal seizures and highly publicized “repatriations” from collectors who were unaware of their rights under the law.
Image: “Indiana”. 1917 sheet music cover. The song & tune sometimes better known as “Home Again in Indiana” or “Back Home Again in Indiana”. Mechanical reproduction of copyright expired printed matter; public domain per US law.
Note: Check out the speculation provided by The Wire on the value of some of Miller's objects. Trust me this author is not an appraiser. When the Wire or FBI says it is priceless that means they don't have a clue what the price is. When they say the cultural value is immeasurable, that means.. they have no clue what culture its from or whether it is authentic or a reproduction.
Apr 4, 2014 3:27PM ET / National The Wire
Here Are Some of the Artifacts Seized by the FBI from a Makeshift Indiana Museum
A 91-year-old man's amateur museum was raided by FBI agents who are seeking to repatriate his remarkable trove of artifacts, including Native American items and shrunken heads. According to the Associated Press, the FBI are aiming to catalog and return the objects found at Donald Miller's home back to their countries of origin. Miller spent several decades collecting items from more than 200 countries, including Papua New Guinea, Russia, and China, displaying them at his rural Warldron, Indiana, home. Miller gave tours to local residents and played a pipe organ for visitors.
The FBI has not said yet whether Miller unknowingly “improperly collected artifacts,” like the shrunken skulls, including one with an arrow stuck in it. The laws surrounding artifact collection are complex, and Miller’s case involves looking at state, federal, and international laws. It also depends on whether the FBI considers the objects stolen or imported with a license. But Miller’s friends believe he had been collecting since he was young, or that he at least obtained the items before stringent laws relating to removing and importing objects were applied.
While the artifacts are priceless — the “cultural value of these artifacts is immeasurable,” said FBI Special Agent Robert Jones — we attempted to calculate what the potential value of their worth could be.
A 60ft, 4ft-wide anaconda snakeskin
That’s a frightening thought and an enormous snakeskin. Genuine Ostrich Hides, a company involved in the "exotic hides business" has priced one foot of anaconda skin at $275, so Miller’s hide is potentially worth about $16,500.
Civil War memorabilia
The FBI haven’t provided specifics about the memorabilia, but a $1,000 Confederate bill is currently going for $75,000 on eBay.
The price of fossils vary, and can easily climbs into the tens of thousands of dollars. We wonder if Miller’s are anything like this pair of angry Romanian bear skeletons, a steal at $99,000 for two.
Ming Dynasty jade
Ming Dynasty artifacts from China similarly range in their value. A rare vase from the era sold for $1.3 million in 2012, rescued from its life as a Long Island door stop. At Christie's, Ming Dynasty jade fetched up to $35,000.
Native American arrowheads
Miller’s property, which contained several buildings, is constructed on Iroquois land. Native American arrowheads start at $0.99 on eBay, and larger collections command several hundred dollars.
A chunk of concrete allegedly from the bunker in which Adolf Hitler committed suicide
Priceless due to its historic rather than monetary value (if confirmed that it's actually from Hitler's bunker), Joe Runnebohm, whose plumbing business worked at Miller's house, summed it up well. "It was just like a big chunk of cement from when they demolished it or whatever," Runnebohm told the AP. http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/04/here-are-some-of-the-artifacts-seized-by-the-fbi-from-a-makeshift-indiana-museum/360206/
CURRICULUM VITAE (abbreviated)LARRY JOHN ZIMMERMAN
Department of Anthropology
425 University Blvd.
Indianapolis IN 46202-1540
Office Phone: 1 317-274-2383
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Web Site: larryjzimmerman.com
1973 M. Phil. Anthropology, University of Kansas
1971 M.A. Anthropology, University of Iowa-Iowa City
1969 B.A. (Honors) Anthropology, University of Iowa
Representation, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Eiteljorg Museum. Acting
Director, Museum Studies program, 2008
2002-2004 Head, Archaeology Department, Minnesota Historical Society
2001-2002 Adjunct Professor, of Anthropology, University of Iowa
1998-2001, Department Executive Officer (Acting), American Indian and Native Studies, and Visiting
Professor of American Indian and Native Studies, University of Iowa
1996-2001, Research Associate, Office of the State Archaeologist of Iowa, Iowa City
1996-2001, Research Associate, Archaeology Laboratory, University of South Dakota, Vermillion
1996-98 Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Iowa
1994-1996 Program Director, Anthropology, University of South Dakota
1992 Visiting Professor, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, UK
1992-1997 Adjunct Professor and Graduate Faculty Fellow, Museum Studies, University of Nebraska,
1990-1996 Distinguished Regents Professor of Anthropology, University of South Dakota
1988-1994 Chairperson, Department of Social Behavior, University of South Dakota
1987-88 Assistant to the President (President's Fellow), University of South Dakota
1985 Faculty Administrative Intern, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of
1983-1988 Professor and Anthropology Program Director, University of South Dakota
1978-1983 Associate Professor and Anthropology Program Director, University of South Dakota, Tenured
1974-1978 Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of South Dakota
1974-1978 Director, Archaeology Laboratory, University of South Dakota
Ethnographic-1999-2000, Effigy Mounds cultural affiliation (oral tradition interviews), 1969 Ceramics market systems, Mexico. Archaeological-1967 through present. Locations: Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Mexico
Types of Sites: Woodland/Archaic/Paleoindian rock shelter and campsites, Oneota, Mill Creek, Central
Plains, Great Oasis villages, Classic Teotihuacan, Aztec, Ossuaries, Conquest Period ranchos, historic
forts, cabins, houses, trading posts, historic estate, homeless encampments
Outstanding Distinguished Resident Faculty, School of Liberal Arts, IUPUI (2009)
Peter J. Ucko Memorial Award for Contributions to World Archaeology, World Archaeological Congress,
Elden Johnson Memorial Lecturer, University of Minnesota and Council for Minnesota Archaeology,
Online Faculty Fellow, 2005-2006, IUPUI
Mariko Mizuhara Award for Cross-Cultural Understanding (2000), University of Iowa
National Lecturer, Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society (1991-93)
Harrington Lecturer (1991-92), College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Dakota
Distinguished Regents Professor (1990)
Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award for Scholarship, University of South Dakota (1990)
Phi Beta Kappa (1988)
Presidential Fellow, University of South Dakota (1987-88)
Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching, University of South Dakota
Danforth Associate (1981)
Teacher of the Year, Student Association, University of South Dakota (1980)
Lambda Alpha (1980 Anthropology Honorary)
Alpha Kappa Delta (1975 Sociology Honorary)
Sigma Xi (Fellow 1987, Associate, 1969 Scientific Honorary)