Another story was forwarded to me last week while I was out of town (thanks Jack!). The Blackfeet Nation (Reservation) shares most of its western border with
I will be the first to admit that Browning is not the richest town in
- "From vintage automobiles to antique weathervanes, the rare collectible market offers a haven for investing if done wisely and if placed in only the finest and rarest specimens but no venue of this field has more promise than that of collecting rare fossils. In comparison to all other rare collectible markets, it is one of the MOST UNDERVALUED markets….Despite what some scientists or 'anti-private ownership' individuals may tell you to discourage the fossil trade, the highest quality and rarest fossils DO APPRECIATE and their value goes up each and every year. This is simple logic. They are not making fossils any more. …This transpires while collector demand for only the finest quality specimens drives onward, forcing values and prices higher as time goes on. …"
Ick, I want to puke. I guess I fall into their "scientists or 'anti-private ownership' individuals" category. It's people like this who are making science more and more impossible and think that everything has to have a dollar value assigned to it. To them it is just another untapped market that they can make a buck off of, regardless of what suffers.
I truly do understand the plight of the Blackfeet Nation. I have been to their land and seen first hand how they live and the conditions many are faced with. I also grew up in Oklahoma ("Indian Territory" - mass exodus destination for many tribes), have a bit of Indian in me, and have seen my fair share of 'good' and 'bad' reservations (still, I know I am not an expert, this is just my opinion). It is all very sad. However, as an alternative to selling off their fossil and their tribal treasures, I would rather see them erect a museum to showcase these things properly (or work it into a permanent display at the Museum of the Plains Indian)! With the close proximity of Glacier National Park and the high volume of tourist traffic Browning and the reservation get every summer (spring to fall even), I think, if done correctly, they could make a killing! Displaying the fossils from their land proudly would give the Blackfeet the financial backing they need, while also promoting education and science! I realize the debt they are in and it would financial backing, but I think if a project were put together with tribal support it could be a success. Training the local tribal people to give informative tours, and in excavation, preparation, collections management, and research techniques could also help to promote a wonderful community of learning for the Nation! The biggest problem would probably be finding someone the tribe felt they could trust to help them get up and running, and someone who would be willing to let them take the reins once it is going the direction it needs to be (and not take advantage of them or their situation). I believe it would need to be an internally managed tribal project to ultimately succeed however. (The current management problems would first need sorted out!) Partnerships with other local and state museums could also be beneficial (sharing specimen cast for example), if done in a non threatening/dominating/controlling way. I truly hope that they will take the pros and cons and look into keeping their fossils and properly promoting and advertising them for themselves. If I had known that Cameron was at the
* Chinnery, B. 2004. Description of Prenoceratops peiganenis gen.et sp. nov. Dinosauria, Neoceratopsia) from the Two Medicine Formation of