Missouri man indicted for illegally excavating Native American site

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Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 4:11 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A Missouri man has been indicted for illegally excavating a prehistoric Native American site and causing more than $300,000 worth of damage, per a professional archeologist’s estimate.

Johnny Lee Brown, a 70-year-old man from Clinton, was charged on April 26 with conspiracy. He also faces five felony counts of excavating, damaging, and otherwise altering and defacing archeological resources. Plus, he faces five felony counts of injury or depredation to government property.

The 11-count indictment says Brown participated in a conspiracy from June of 2016 to September of 2021 to unlawfully excavate archeological resource from federal lands at Harry S. Truman Lake in Henry County near Tightwad, Missouri. The site is on a peninsula at the lake and is a large prehistoric Native American site that dates back to the Late Archaic Period (3,000-5,000 years ago).

According to the Osage Nation, the excavation of this site greatly impacts their cultural history and that of affiliated tribes.

The indictment refers to both known and unknown co-conspirators. It cites 10 specific occasions on which Brown and his co-conspirators excavated the site.

It alleges that Brown and his co-conspirators either drove or walked down a closed access road in order to get to the site. It is alleged that they used hand trowels, full-size shovels, rakes and hoes in order to dig, excavate or otherwise damage large areas.