The Hoosierist: Collector’s Items

Should you turn over the commonly found artifacts in your yard or can you keep them?

Q: I’VE GOT A BOX OF ARROWHEADS AND STONE TOOLS MY GRANDFATHER PICKED UP IN HIS FIELDS. IS KEEPING THESE LEGAL?

A: Owning Native American artifacts might feel weird, but it’s likely 100-percent legal. Gathering such items off the ground is perfectly OK as long as it’s on your property or the property of someone who’s cool with it. (Things get trickier if you use a shovel, because “excavating” requires you to file a plan for approval by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.) But don’t touch anything on state or federal land, where pocketing “souvenirs” is a misdemeanor. At the risk of stating the obvious, probing a burial mound (aka grave robbing) constitutes a Level 6 felony. If you do happen to find what you think may be a gravesite on your land, mark it, report it to the DNR’s Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, then leave it alone, advises state archaeologist Amy Johnson