A pothunter is nailed at last

  Earl Shumway, the notorious pillager of Anasazi burial sites in Utah, has been convicted of looting. Shumway had built a record of illegal pillaging of historic sites since 1984, bragging that he was untouchable (HCN, 12/26/94).


When asked by The Salt Lake Tribune to describe Shumway, Utah state archaeologist Dave Madsen was brief: "Pothunter. Looter. Or just scumbag. You probably can't print any of the other words I'd use."


Shumway barely escaped a conviction in 1986 by testifying against his friend Buddy Black in the high-profile Basket Case, in which the two looters excavated a collection of Anasazi baskets. That strategy kept him free for a while - Shumway got away with probation. Now, a Moab helicopter pilot has testified in federal court that Shumway offered him thousands of dollars worth of Anasazi baskets to pinpoint certain sites from the air, including one within Canyonlands National Park.


But pilot Michael Miller said he realized Shumway wasn't going to split the proceeds from artifact sales with him, much less pay for any of the helicopter's gas. Law enforcement officials expect Shumway's Nov. 13 sentencing to be stiff: he was convicted of four violations of the Archaeological Resources Act. Shumway's offenses could net him up to 15 years in prison.


* Shea Andersen