Comments about this issue as submitted by Readers
Our first comment is from Julian Morrell (also a "creek walker")

From: "Julian Morell" <>
Reply-To: <>
To: "Bob Wishoff-- Dirt Brothers/Outlawforpeace" <>

It's great!!!! The section on Ashley is fantastic.

While reading your "Correspondence with Mark Denton" I can see the
conviction and passion that you have for this truly difficult subject of
amateur "salvage" archeology. I also see by Mark's letter, that he also has
a passionate opinion on this issue. 

What I found truly unsettling was Mark's last statement:

"Any artifacts recovered from either public or private land,
regardless of whether they may have been recovered from the surface or not, should not be considered your own personal property, or the line between looters and ethical archeologists becomes non-existent regardless of how well the site is documented."

This type of statement concerns me for a number of reasons:

1.To me, archeology is knowledge not things.

2.The physical artifact itself is not a resource such as water or wildlife which needs regulation. Though, I think that the artifact's information could be considered a resource, and as such, should be encouraged to become reasonably available to the public.

3.The last reason is based on the idea of "ownership" in the United States. We don't live in a country where the populace or government owns all the land or even the resources. Individuals own  them, and the government is charged with their regulation for the public good where needed.

So, as I see it, like it or not, all artifacts in the U.S. are now owned,
either by an individual or by an individual institution. This is pretty much
a reality. Now, what isn't a reality, but I feel should be, is the
encouragement and accumulation of shared historical knowledge. Where the recovered artifact actually resides, is merely a matter of personal pride.

Now, that is my 2 cents worth.

You may reprint this in part or whole, as you see fit.


And another comment:

From: "Misty" <>
      To:"Ashley Comments" <>

I have been on Walnut creek lately but in blanco county on private owned land.  As I find arrowheads and scrapers I have felt like it would be better for me to tell someone who knew more about this stuff to look at the acres of stuff surfacing. But it is reasons like this that I havent. Its ashame that the nice man who did'nt have to tell anyone about his finds and could of secreatly kept going back collecting until he had it all for himself, doesnt get a big THANK YOU  from everyone who has anything to do with it.  

Makes you wonder what would happen if we left all the evidence of prehistoric living up to the Texas Historical Commision what all we would know. I bet very few of them actually go walking around parks or Public Land and find anything  in comparison that we could learn from.  I fell bad about not telling anyone about the stuff I have found but its only stuff that has come up to the top of the ground I haven't dug up anything, I think that seems kind of wrong. If they wanted to give it to us it would surface. I know that's weird but I also don't want to dig around every where and cause the land to wash away for no reason.   

... if people like Steve don't tell the State about finds how much will they have to go on?? What will they be able to learn, What will they be able to teach?? 
Is their heart in it??
Thank You Steve,

An opinion from Alabama:

      To:Ashley Comments<>

First let me say that Steve Ashley is definitely a man of great integrity and obviously wants to do whats best for his state and local history.We should all admire this man for taking this chance.      

I myself am not from Texas, but this subject really caught my attention. Sounds like the state is spending too much time trying to "sieze" this blade and punish Steve while forgetting the site and the hundreds of other artifacts.

I as an amateur search for surface finds weekly and would fight to the death anyone who tried to take them.I know this sounds extreme, but I am very passionate about my history and constantly amazed by the talents and abilities of our Native American ancestors.

Steve could have kept his secret and enjoyed years of exciting finds (as most people, including myself,  would have done) but instead did the right thing.Now he's being treated like a looter.What's next, would they really be happy if he turned over his blade, or would they then try to prosicute?This man should be rewarded, not punished.

As far as "amateurs and pros" are concerned, the amateurs in my area tend to be far more knowledgable on the subject than most so-called

I have learned more from people who search as a hobby than those who do it as a career.What good comes from wasting time disagreeing
while precious sites are being destroyed every day.

Besides, don't we all (pros and ams) share the same common interests anyway?

P.S. I would never sell anything I have found and some people still live by the motto "Finder's Keeper's"

Sincerely,    Jeremy Landers       (Alabama)

Steve's Story (by Don Rathbun)
Correspondence with Mark Denton
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