Petition requesting that National Geographic Channel, Travel Channel and Spike TV pull their Digger Programming immediately as they promote looting and disrespect of our national heritage.
Would you want your ancestors’ graves, property, or your hometown blatantly struck by shouting diggers with metal detecting devices trying to loot their way across the landscape? Would you want your children to learn that this kind of activity is “okay”? Would you condone tearing the pages out of an important book? If not then please help stop the irresponsible programming that sets this precedent for destroying our heritage and history. This is not what real historians or archaeologists do.
The looting, vandalism and overall commercialization of our national and state- wide cultural landscapes present serious problem throughout the United States as untrained “treasure” hunters pillage sites and collect the artifacts for personal gain or re-sale. Archaeological sites are fragile, non-renewable resources that take decades, centuries and sometimes millennia to form. Yet a careless digger with a shovel can damage or destroy them in minutes.
On federal and state lands such vandalism of our national heritage is on the increase, in part because of programs like The National Geographic Channel’s Diggers, The Travel Channel’s Dig Wars and Spike TV’s American Diggers. These three programs on cable glorify destructive relic collecting and promote looting of our future.
For example: a recent episode of “Dig Wars’” followed the exploit of gleeful metal detector enthusiasts as they grabbed artifacts from a private portion of Fort Phantom Hill in Taylor County, Texas. There was no attempt at proper site recording or documentation. All they were after was the loot. Other programs in New Mexico depict the same with Civil War battlefields or within the bounds of Lincoln Historic Site. While this occurs on private lands, the spillover is happening onto our public lands at a rapid pace.
These shows send the wrong message to the public in general, and in particular young people, for these reasons: 1) they promote the idea that our history is for sale to anyone with a metal detector; 2) they promote the idea that artifacts are mere trinkets, and only have value when they are dug up by people who can turn them into a commodity for profit; 3) they send the message that digging for buried “treasure” is a great idea, no matter what damage is done to the archaeological context of the sites.
Other examples: prehistoric sites in South Dakota looted so badly that it looked as if hand grenades had been tossed in house structures and burials; rock shelters in south Texas pillaged; and the most egregious encounter in New Mexico, where metal detector enthusiasts dug into the graves of Civil War era soldiers, scattered their bones and removed skulls to put in trophy rooms.
PLEASE sign our petition to stop these kinds of unintended consequences that are rapidly growing throughout the United States as a result of irresponsible programming by these cable TV programs. A nation that does not respect its past has no future.

Stop airing their "Digger" programs

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. The Austin Declaration


      The presidents of the Australian Archaeological Association, the Canadian Archaeological Association, the European Association of Archaeologists, the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM), the Pan African Archaeological Association, the World Archaeological Congress, and the Secretary-General of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association have together prepared this document after discussions initiated at a meeting of presidents held on 5 April 2014 in Austin, Texas, concerning the proliferation of content in popular media that celebrates and encourages the destruction of the archaeological record.
      Excavating an archaeological site is an unavoidably destructive process. Archaeologists mitigate this destruction through the use of careful excavation techniques, documentation, preservation, and reporting procedures that have been developed over the past century, and are updated as new technologies become available. Procedures include documenting exactly what was done in the field; analyzing and describing in detail all that was found that might be pertinent to a wide range of questions regarding human and environmental history; obtaining and analyzing samples of material relevant to those questions (for example, soils, pollen, micro faunal remains, and charcoal or other organic materials); comprehensively documenting, describing, and analyzing of all recovered artifacts; developing a catalogue of artifacts and other material taken from the site; preparing field notes each day that include photographs and drawings; treating all materials taken for storage and placing them in an environmentally controlled facility; and writing a report that describes all the above activities and provides an interpretation of what was found in the context of current research questions and interests. Further, anyone excavating archaeological sites has an ethical responsibility to engage with all interested and affected parties, in particular local communities.
      To excavate a site without following such protocols is unmitigated destruction of the archaeological record, and with it, all of the information that might have been gained from that record about human history and the changing relationships among human groups and the environment. Such questions have never been more important as we move into a future in which human alteration of the environment and social change continues to accelerate enormously.
      In certain countries, notably the United States (with the exceptions of a few states), the legal structure is such that property owners have the right to engage in undertakings that disturb or destroy archaeological sites, or to allow others, including non-archaeologists, to excavate archaeological sites on their property. In such countries, it is crucial to inform the public about how proper archaeological research is conducted, why it is undertaken, and what this research has revealed that might be of interest to them. In most countries, however, archaeological sites cannot be disturbed without a license, and sometimes they are not even considered private property. In such countries, broadcasting programs that depict excavation for pleasure or profit can only encourage illegal activity. For these reasons, we, the undersigned, call upon the media to refrain from broadcasting any program that presents in a favorable manner excavation of archaeological materials in any way that does not adhere to the excavation protocols outlined in the first paragraph above, which conform to standard archaeological practice around the world. Further, we note that, if appropriately produced, archaeology- and heritage-related programs in the media can be effective tools that provide the public with knowledge that is satisfying on a personal level and useful to all of us as we plot our course through a globalized and rapidly changing world.

    2. NGS Channel cancels "Nazi Diggers."

      Because of the outcry and outrage expressed by the international archaeological community and its supporters, the National Geograpahic Channel has canceled its planned airing of Nazi Diggers. This is a huge win for human decency in the treatment of human remains and for archaeological science. None of the diggers in the planned episodes are qualified to excavate a burial. But the fight goes on, the clarion call must continue until Nat Geo Channel's home grown show "Diggers" is similarly canceled. Write letters to newspapers, tweet, send e-mails and share on facebook.

    3. Reached 4,000 signatures
    4. Nazi Diggers

      People world wide are mad as hell! Within the last 24 hours (as a result of a new Diggers type program purporting to dig up WW II remains by National Geographic “Diggers”) a new wound has been opened and exposed the raw irresponsibility of what can happen if these kinds of programs are not “nipped in the bud.”
      Digging up human remains tips the scale on any level of archaeological or recovery work be it an ancient southwestern pueblo, a Roman era tomb, or this latest fiasco of irresponsible digging and filming. This rather cavalier attitude has created anger, disgust and individuals on a world wide basis are up in arms. This time World War II/Nazi Diggers programming by National Geographic Society has just kicked up the Diggers situation several notches! Their cavalier attitude has angered and astounded not only those who are in the field, but everyone who cares about their own patrimony. In the last 24 hours the anti Diggers petition has grown by almost 500 signatures!

    5. Reached 3,000 signatures
    6. CB Morning News Promotes Diggers

      This morning CBS Morning News interviewed the metal detector individuals from "Diggers." Everybody please write, e-mail, tweet or facebook CBS Morning news to address concerns about this show.

    7. Arizona Steps Up Big Time

      The Arizona Archaeological Council, Archaeology Southwest, and the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society has stepped up and written a letter to the National Geographic Society and the Channel. In essence the letter calls out the Society and Channel for its blatant disregard for archaeological sites and archaeological professionalism. It calls on the Society to either work for meaningful changes to the program or remove its branding from the show. The slog continues!

    8. Keep Fighting

      We have learned of late about the Colorado and Arizona state agencies that stepped up to the plate and said no to the Diggers Nat. Geo film crews. Virginia has also had run ins big time with the TV Channel and their insatiable desire to Dig Civil War sites especially. West Virginia and Montana, Kansas and Ohio are also places of note. The Another state agency, this time in New Mexico, stepped up to the plate and said NO to the Diggers film crews. This happened recently when they came to Lincoln. We now know about them wanting to Dig on nearby Fort Stanton BLM lands and they were rebuffed as well. Their attitude was not good , they did not like being turned down and they became belligerent in a couple of instances. We need to stop the viewership. We are asking the local, regional and national/international archaeological, historical and preservation-related agencies to continue the fight.

    9. Two Victories Over "Diggers"

      Arizona State Parks has stepped up big time. When the Diggers folks wanted to film their juice and nectar guys digging at the Tubac Presidio State Historical Park, they said NO. See more at:

      In Colorado, the Director of the Boggsville Historic site, a property of the Pioneer Historical Society of Bent County, was approached by a Diggers film crew that wanted to shoot a dig on-site. His recommendation to the PHSBC that the request be denied was approved.

      These are huge wins, and should inspire us all to continue to fight to get his show off the air.

      Archaeologists Protest Filming of Diggers Program In A Treasured State Park

      December 16, 2013 By Laurie Dudasik In the first week of December, the archaeological community caught news that the National Geographic Channel's "Diggers" was slated to film an episode in southern Arizona, and they did not hesitate to use this opportunity to continue the protests against the show and others like it.

    10. Reached 2,500 signatures
    11. National Geographic Society Places Profit Over Decency

      We now have letters of support from the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) and the SAA (both attached).

      Also,further investigation has indicated that the National Geographic Society in general is under fire because of the terrible programming on their TV Channel, in other words, the Channel is bringing a lot of grief and a come down to the venerable society. the outrage includes legal papers filed by the Hutterites the Egyptian debacle. That letters are pushing them and they are circling the wagons and have been for some time. That usually means a crack in the wall of protection and that we continue to urge folks to sign the petition and write hard copy letters. The bare bones of it is that the Society is making millions from the Channel's descent into depravity to compensate through a steady decline in membership

    12. NGS and NGC are Stonewalling

      Responses from the National Geographic Society and National Geographic Channel have been few, and offer nothing but talking points. They are hoping we all go away. We now urge everybody to directly flood Nat Geo Channel CEO David Lyle and Nat Geo Society CEO Gary Knell or Board Chairman John Fahey with snail mail letters. The response from Mr. Lyle was especially noteworthy in that he asserted that often the metal detector treasure hunters were the last line of defense against the bulldozer.

      David Lyle, CEO
      National Geographic Channels
      1145 17th Street Northwest
      Washington, D.C. 20036

      Gary Knell Chief Executive Officer
      or John Fahey, Chairman of the Board
      National Geographic Society
      1145 17th St. NW
      Washington, D.C. 20036

    13. Reached 2,000 signatures
    14. Nearing 2000

      We are nearing two thousand signatures, and are now increasing our support nationally and world-wide with signatures from 19 foreign countries. We have to keep up the pressure; replies from National Geographic Society and the Channel are composed of weak talking points and assertions that are untrue, one of which asserts that the metal detector guys on the show are the last hope before the bulldozers arrive. This is patently false. Keep those letter coming to the Society and the Channel. Encourage your friends and colleagues to demand that National Geographic wash their hands of this programming or replace it with responsible programming that shows how the mysteries that people love about archaeology can be solved by authentic, scientific, and preservation-minded investigations that set a more positive climate for the preservation of our archaeological heritage.

    15. 1600 Plus!

      We are working to get more organizational support. If you are members of historical, archaeological or preservation-minded organizations, help us to get their support that we can add to our organizational support list, whihc is growing. Right now the list stands at 23, including the archaeological councils of Texas, New Mexico, Florida and Kansas; the Oregon-California Trails Association; the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees; International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management ; the Nevada Rock Art Foundation; the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance; and the Arizona Historical Society.

    16. Over 1500 strong!

      We are now over 1500 signatures; we have people who are writing letters to these channels, but we need more people to do that. WE need op-ed pieces in newspapers from across the country. Thus far we have op-eds published in the Santa Fe New Mexican, and soon will be a submission to the New York Times. We need parallel action with this petition. We need people to contact the local media with letters, links and especially a link to this petition. We have to conceptualize this as a social movement, it will take time.

    17. Reached 1,500 signatures
    18. Moving Forward

      Here is where we are now:
      1) Over 1,1000 people have signed from 39 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Mexico, and Malta.

      2) A network of contacts now include members of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Cornerstones Community Partnerships, Archaeological Councils in Kansas, Florida, and Texas, Icomos, Conservationlands Foundation (BLM Friends Groups); Historical Society of New Mexico, Arizona Historical Society; National Conservation and Parks Association; The National Trust for Historic Preservation; Tularosa Basin Historical Society, Vado Historical Society; New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance.

      3) Petition comments have been sent to The National Geographic Channel, The Travel Channel and Spike TV, as have links to the petition.

    19. Reached 1,000 signatures
    20. We're Growing!

      Here is where we are at the present time:
      1) Right now we are nearly 1000 signatures, from 38 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the UK, Germany, Italy, Australia and New Zealand
      2) E-mails or letters have been sent out to all state historic preservation officers
      3) E-mails or letters are being sent to the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
      4) Organizations that have come on board included the California-Oregon Trail Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
      5) Petition links have been sent to National Geographic Channel, the Travel Channel and Spike TV.
      6) We have contacted the SAA newsroom. They really need to get moving on this.
      7) A network of contacts now include members of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

    21. Reached 750 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Randall Shepard AUSTIN, CO
      • 2 days ago

      This kind of programming is very irresponsible. I can't believe that the National Geographic Channel would have this kind of show. Shame on you and the other channels that are part of this.

    • Hamish Curran AUSTRALIA
      • 22 days ago

      The practice of looting is more damaging to the practice of archaeology than any force of nature. To display it in any positive light is a detriment to the study of history.

    • Hardy Huber MONTROSE, BC, CANADA
      • about 1 month ago

      My mother's family was killed in WWII - My father's brother is missing since 1942 in Stalingrad

    • Janet Perry FAIRFAX, VA
      • about 1 month ago

      "Diggers" encourages untrained treasure seekers to destroy the only links we have to the past for table trophies. These actions are like encouraging loggers to cut down the redwoods so that they can have large sections for those tables. The only way we learn is through documentation and diggers do not document, they raid. The unintended consequences of your show are too great. Stop the show.

    • Michael Kellett WESTFORD, MA
      • about 1 month ago

      For all the reasons listed in the petition. This destructive activity should be banned, not popularized on TV.


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