The FBI, archaeologists and other experts confiscated Native American and other artifacts and relics from a collection in a rural central Indiana home.
Homeowner, 91-year old Donald Miller has been collecting the artifacts and relics for over 80 years, the FBI said. The items include artifacts from Native Americans, United States, China, Haiti, Australia, Russia, New Guinea, Italy, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Greece, Peru and possibly several other countries.
An FBI investigation determined that Miller may have knowingly and unknowingly collected objects in violation of several treaties and federal and state statutes, Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones said Wednesday.
“We know that some of the items were acquired improperly,” Jones said.
Some items were acquired improperly, but Miller traveled extensively and obtained others legally or before laws affecting them were on the books, Jones said. Federal authorities will attempt to repatriate items with their rightful owners, he said.
“The exact number of artifacts in the collection is unknown at this time but it’s believed to be in the thousands,” Jones said. “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.” He refused to disclose details of any of the individual items taken from Miller’s property.
People who had toured Donald Miller’s Rush County home years before the FBI’s arrival Wednesday described it as a homemade museum containing diverse items including fossils, Civil War memorabilia and what the owner claimed to be a chunk of concrete from the bunker in which Adolf Hitler committed suicide toward the end of World War II.
Miller was cooperating with the investigation. “He is being cooperative and so far everything is going well,” said Paul Bresson, FBI Spokesperson.
This investigation is developing. The FBI says they’re trying to separate what is in breach of any treaty or what was acquired improperly to get those things back where they belong. Everything else will be returned to Miller.
It was unclear whether he would face any criminal charges, Jones said.
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The 91-year-old is a veteran, former teacher, and was part of the Manhattan Project which created the atomic bomb — and over eight decades has traveled to more than 200 countries, collecting and bartering for artifacts along the way.
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