Skip to main content
Treaty Rights & Tribal Sovereignty

Light Sentence in Artifact Looting Case

By November 9, 2009No Comments2 min read

A Eureka, California man received a light sentenced in late October for illegally removing artifacts from a cultural site of the Yurok tribe. After pleading guilty in September  to illegally excavating a Native cultural site, James Edward Truhls, 30, was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 60 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $350 fine for illegally removing artifacts from a cultural site of the Yurok tribe. Truhls could have received up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine. A judge had previously dropped a grave-looting charge which potentially carried a stronger sentence.


Truhls had removed arrowheads and an awl and had many other artifacts in his home when it was searched. He had posted a YouTube video of himself looting the site. The site that Truhls looted was a former Yurok village that had been inhabited over 400 years before European contact according to archeological evidence presented at the trial.

Yurok elders issued a statement that “Disturbing burial sites is considered one of the most offensive crimes committed against Yurok ancestor. Yuroks are commonly buried with items that represented the personality of the deceased, while he or she was alive. These items follow them into the afterlife. If they are removed, it literally steals a part of the identity for the deceased on the other side.”(Eureka Times Standard, March 20, 2009, September 15, 2009, October 24, 2009,


Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

More posts by Chuck Tanner