Federal charges are being brought against a 68-year-old Pend Oreille County man accused of illegally selling Native American artifacts, cultural items and human remains, including some from the Custer Battlefield, and possessing federally protected birds.
Kenneth L. Milette, who lives near Newport, Wash., is scheduled to surrender and appear for an arraignment Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane before Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno.
He was indicted last week by a federal grand jury on a seven counts following an investigation begun five years ago by agents of the U.S. Department of Interior.
The investigation included a search warrant at Milette’s home where evidence was seized, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice said Monday.
Rice wouldn’t say where or how Milette allegedly was selling the artifacts or what prompted the investigation.
The evidence seized underwent lengthy scientific examination and archaeological study by various governmental agencies. It wasn’t immediately known if those analyses are why it took federal authorities five years to bring charges.
“I couldn’t tell you why, either,” Milette’s attorney, Greg Lockwood, of Spokane, said Monday. He declined further comment.
In one count, Jones is charged with trafficking in archeological resources between September and November of 2003.
He is accused of selling or exchanging artifacts including projectile points, stone tools, animal parts and beads – all more than 100 years old – “excavated and removed from public and Indians lands” without a permit.
The indictment alleges the thefts occurred on the Nez Perce and Coeur d’Alene Indian reservations in Idaho; the Spokane Indian Reservation and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area in Eastern Washington, and on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier National Park and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (Custer Battlefield) in Montana.
The second count accuses Milette of trafficking in stone projectile points that were illegally removed from Colorado in violation of that state’s laws.
In the third count, Milette is charged with selling for profit the teeth and a jaw bone from the “human remains of a Native American” in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Reparation Act. The indictment doesn’t provide more details about those remains or where they allegedly were removed.
Milette also is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a golden eagle, unlawful sale of a golden eagle and unlawful sale of migratory birds, a red-headed woodpecker, and various eagle feathers and talons attached to Native American objects.
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