The FBI has reportedly started to seize artifacts from a 91-year-old Indiana man’s home that they say are of extreme cultural value.
Don Miller says he’s been collecting rare artifacts for years and has traveled to 200 countries to get his hands on the items, but now, an FBI investigation revealed that he may have collected artifacts in violation of a number of different treaties.
"Over the last several months, an FBI investigation has determined that Mr. Miller may have knowingly and unknowingly collected artifacts, relics and objects of cultural patrimony in violation of several treaties federal and state statutes,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones.
Reports claim that the historic relics are kept in several buildings on Miller’s central Indiana property and that once agents determine which artifacts need to be confiscated, they will begin the process of getting them back to where they came from.
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“[It is] our duty to ensure they are properly identified, safeguarded, collected and stored in a manner that allow us to eventually to return them to those Native American and other nations and cultural groups who have legitimate rights to ownership,” said Jones.
Authorities aren’t able to confirm exactly how many artifacts there are in the storage spaces, but they do say that their value goes beyond any sort of monetary amount.
"The exact number of artifacts in the collection is unknown at this time, but it's believed to be in the thousands," said Jones. "The monetary value of the entire collection and of its individual pieces is yet to be determined; however, the cultural value of these artifacts is immeasurable."
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Despite the FBI’s claims, Miller vehemently maintains that he is the rightful owner of every single item and that he obtained them completely legally.
“He is being cooperative, and so far, everything is going well,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson.
Those who have met Miller and viewed his artifacts said they were shocked that the 91-year-old was being investigated by the FBI.
“I’m just thinking about this wonderful man that I had met three years ago, and I’ll never forget him and all the stories he told us,” said Melissa Kleiman. “I just can’t imagine him doing anything wrong on purpose.”
The FBI investigation is ongoing, and so far, agents have yet to comment on the progress they’ve made since starting to go through the artifacts.