Upper Skagit Tribe Offers $5K Reward After Looting Of North Cascades Site

North Cascades National Park. CREDIT: John Ryan/KUOW
North Cascades National Park. CREDIT: John Ryan/KUOW

READ ON

BY JOHN RYAN / KUOW

The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe is offering up to a $5,000 reward to help catch whoever looted an archeological site in North Cascades National Park.

National Park Service police have been investigating the illegal excavation of an ancient mountain-goat hunting camp. They discovered someone had dug up the “Rock Shelter” site outside the town of Newhalem, Washington, last summer.

The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe and the National Park Service seek help capturing looters of a hunting camp. CREDIT: National Park Service

The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe and the National Park Service seek help capturing looters of a hunting camp. CREDIT: National Park Service/Facebook

The dig caused “irretrievable damage,” according to the park service.

“Whatever artifacts were taken or removed probably didn’t have a lot of monetary value to folks,” said Scott Schuyler, the Upper Skagit tribe’s cultural policy representative. “But to the tribe, they’re priceless and irreplaceable because they’re, in an essence, they’re our culture.”

The site was used for at least 1,500 years.

“It’s an overhanging cliff, and my ancestors used to process the game or fish that they got from Newhalem area right under there and cook,” Schuyler said.

Mountain goats were an important resource for both meat and wool.

The rock shelter site was rediscovered in the 1980s.

Today, there’s a wheelchair-accessible trail to the site and a wooden observation platform with interpretive signage to give visitors a glimpse of indigenous life in the Cascades centuries ago.

Entering the site below the observation platform, let digging there, is a violation of the federal Archeological Resources Protection Act.

Schuyler said the tribe wants people to know about its rich history, as long as they respect it.

Archeologists have identified more than 160 pre-contact archeological sites in the upper Skagit valley, going back at least 10,000 years.

Copyright 2020 KUOW. To see more, visit kuow.org

Related Stories:

Colville Tribal member Crystal Conant releases the final salmon into the upper Columbia River on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. Conant said salmon’s reintroduction to the upper Columbia will help heal the tribe and the ecosystem. CREDIT: COURTNEY FLATT/NWPB

‘The Very Essence Of Our Being’: Northwest Tribes (And Politicians) Gather To Discuss Future Of Salmon

Tribes across the Northwest called for immediate action to remove the four Lower Snake River dams during a two-day Salmon and Orca summit in western Washington. The group called on President Biden and congressional members to “take bold action, now.” Continue Reading ‘The Very Essence Of Our Being’: Northwest Tribes (And Politicians) Gather To Discuss Future Of Salmon

Chemawa Indian School is the oldest continuously running off-reservation Indian boarding school. CREDIT: Rob Manning/OPB

Interior Department Initiative Means A Closer Look At Northwest Indigenous School Burial Sites

When Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a sweeping investigation into burial sites on current and former school sites that have historically served Native Americans, it was met with amazement, even among people who’ve been searching out Indigenous remains for years. Continue Reading Interior Department Initiative Means A Closer Look At Northwest Indigenous School Burial Sites