Ya que 1953
, Picture Cave and the
43 acres of land on which it sits had been owned by a St
. Louis family who used it mainly for hunting
. But in recent years
, the family began to discuss the possibility of selling the site
, according to Bryan Laughlin
, executive director of Selkirk Auctioneers
, the company that managed the auction
Once the Osage Nation learned their sacred site might soon be up for sale
, the tribe knew they wanted to reclaim it
, Hunter said
Over a period of several months, the Osage Nation, in conjunction with the Conservation Fund and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, discussed an arrangement with the family that would have allowed the tribe to purchase the site directly. Por último, sin embargo, the parties were unable to agree on a price, Hunter added.
Durante este tiempo, the family had the site valued by real estate appraisers, whose estimates ranged from $ 420,000 a $ 450,000, Laughlin said. Unhappy with that valuation, the family presented their situation to the auction house, which estimated the site would sell for anywhere between $ 1 million and $ 3 millones en subasta.
“A mi, it was just mindboggling how they wouldn’t be able to realize that the significance and the historical intrinsic value would make it so much greater than just the acreage times a certain number,” él agregó.
A principios de este año, it was Anunciado that Picture Cave would be coming up for auction
. For some
, sin embargo, the notion of putting a price on a site with such historical and cultural significance to Indigenous people was alarming
, an anthropologist who along with her husband James Duncan spent more than two decades researching the cave and wrote a book on its mysteries
, called the sale
“both wrong and unethical.
“It really sends the wrong message — that ancient sacred American Indian sites can be purchased for the ‘right’ amount of money, irregardless of their patrimony,” she wrote in an email to CNN.
The new buyer hasn’t been identified
Though Hunter said the Osage Nation, represented by the Conservation Fund, were among the bidders on Picture Cave, an anonymous buyer ended up winning out on the sale earlier this week — much to the heartbreak of the tribe.
“Es difícil de poner en palabras,” Hunter said, of her feelings after the sale.
En años recientes, tribes in the US have reclaimed ancestral lands through various methods
: Some have raised funds to buy back the lands themselves
, while others have had their lands repatriated by previous owners
. No esta claro, aunque, whether the Osage Nation will eventually be able to reclaim Picture Cave
The new buyer has not been publicly identified
, but Laughlin described the entity as cave conservationists who have worked to preserve other caves in the Midwest and around North America
. He said he’s optimistic that the site will continue to be taken care of
, both because the auction house had limited who could bid and because a Missouri law makes it a crime to damage a human burial site or profit off of cultural items from there
“Regarding time and unforeseen occurrence, I cannot say, but all indications thus far would be that the cave is going to be preserved very well,” Laughlin added.
As for now, the Osage Nation is attempting to connect with the buyer to ensure that the tribe’s sacred site remains preserved and protected, according to Hunter. But the point remains, ella dijo: Picture Cave was theirs to begin with, and to them it should have been returned.
“That’s good that they have an interest in preserving it,” ella añadió. “But why should it be some cave conservationist in control?”