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.