MPMA Joins Outrage Over Television Programs that Create Incentives
to Harm Historic Resources and that Encourage Destruction of America’s Archaeological Heritage
Posted March 8, 2012.
Contact: Monta Lee Dakin, MPMA Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org , 303-979-9358
Two television networks have current programs that encourage treasure hunting at historic sites all across America. The National Geographic Channel’s “Diggers” and Spike TV’s “American Digger” programs target privately-owned historic sites, including Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, for artifact hunting. While laws exist to protect public sites, popular media is now encouraging indiscriminate looting everywhere. The following is a statement from the Board of Directors of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association (MPMA).
“MPMA joins other organizations and individuals to express its deepest concerns about the new reality television shows: “Diggers,” which premiered on the National Geographic Channel on February 28, and “American Digger” which will premiere on Spike TV on March 21, 2012. While we would be interested in viewing a series on archaeology that features finds within the parameters of good science and professional practices, we cannot support the current shows that glorify and encourage unethical excavation of artifacts with little regard for science and preservation. We feel these shows encourage commercial profit and looting, along with the destruction of and possibly illegal contact with America’s historic sites. There is a reason why laws and ethical policies govern these sites: they are there to protect them from unnecessary digs and to prevent indiscriminate diggers from robbing our country of knowledge about its past. It was the looting of archaeological and historic sites more than 100 years ago that led to the first federal law to regulate such activities, the Antiquities Act of 1906.
We also find it deeply disconcerting that the National Geographic Society – a trusted icon of scientific discovery who more than any other organization has forged an understanding of our shared cultural heritage – would lend its name to a television show that debases all the integrity it has built up during its century of existence.”
MPMA is a regional museum organization founded in 1953, and dedicated to supporting museums in its region of the central and western United States. It represents the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. It is headquartered in Littleton, CO.