The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Cultural Resources Management Archaeology: M.S.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Mark P. Muñiz

Second Advisor

Rob B. Mann

Third Advisor

Sandrine A. Zerbib

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

survey, looting, cultural resource heritage preservation, archaeology


This research was conducted with the purpose of gathering and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data related to archaeological looting and public opinion regarding archaeology and cultural heritage preservation legislation in Wyoming. Areas of the state in which impacts of looting are most prevalent and the trends in these activities, as well as statewide trends, were identified. Randomly selected residents (n = 2,040) in these areas were then targeted by an anonymous survey, which was implemented with the purpose of assessing public knowledge pertaining to cultural resource legislation and archaeology. The anonymous survey was also distributed to Wyoming Archaeological Society and Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists members to serve as a comparison, as knowledge regarding archaeology and cultural resource legislation was expected to be higher amongst these groups.

Despite current and prior preservation efforts, archaeological looting and vandalism remains a prevalent issue within the state of Wyoming. Varying perspectives exist as to why these activities occur; whether or not the public knows of cultural heritage preservation laws; methods that should be employed to reduce looting/vandalism; types of sites that are most impacted by these activities, and general trends over the past 20 years. However, prior to now, no known state-specific research into such trends in these activities and the public’s perceptions and attitudes towards archaeology and cultural resources has been conducted. The research conducted for this thesis provides qualitative and quantitative insight into these activities and public perceptions and can serve as a basis for future research.

The findings indicate a general lack of knowledge pertaining to cultural resource legislation and archaeology amongst the public respondents, which is likely associated with the increased looting activities within the areas in which they reside. However, the majority of the public is generally interested in archaeology and cultural resources and feels that archaeology makes important contributions, which include preserving the past for future generations, providing data for research on past cultures, and educating modern society about other cultures. Concepts of private property rights are directly evident in the results and overall, level of education and age play an important role in respondent knowledge. The most significant outcome of this research is that the knowledge it has provided regarding the public’s attitudes and perceptions related to archaeology and cultural resources can be utilized to key in on specific issues or areas, which can be targeted to influence positive change.


I am deeply appreciative of many people for the assistance and guidance they provided throughout the planning stages and completion of this thesis research. First, I would like to recognize my thesis committee members for their constant feedback and enthusiasm with regard to this project: Dr. Sandrine Zerbib, Dr. Rob Mann, and my committee chair, Dr. Mark Muñiz. I am also deeply indebted to Randy Kolb and his graduate staff at the SCSU Statistics Consulting and Research Center for their assistance, interest, and overall dedication to this project. Without their help I would still be entering, organizing, testing, and analyzing results.

I would also like to thank the following people, in no particular order, for their contributions:

  • Ross Hilman and the Wyoming Cultural Records Office, for providing statewide WYCRIS data.
  • SWCA GIS Specialist, Bryan Swindell, his assistance with WYCRO digital datasets and their interpretation.
  • Carolyn Buff, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Wyoming Archaeological Society, for her suggestions and for supplying the email listings of current members.
  • Mike Bies, Carolyn Buff, Martin McAllister, Paul Sanders, Larry Todd, Dave Vlcek, and Danny Walker, for providing their thoughts and perspectives, and for allowing me to incorporate them as part of this project.
  • Kathy Boden, Pat Bower, Bonnie Bruce, Richard Currit, Joe Daniele, Kolleen Kralick, Tom Lincoln, Karen Mudar, Molly Westby, and Judy Wolf for sharing their professional insights pertaining to looting and vandalism within the state and allowing me to incorporate them.
  • Thomas K. Larson, my former employer, for his support and financial assistance that aided in the completion of this program.
  • SWCA Environmental Consultants (Sheridan Office) and St. Cloud State University’s Student Research Colloquium for the financial assistance and support of this research. Without this funding, this project would not have been possible.
  • A very special thanks goes out to my parents, family, friends, and coworkers, who spent countless hours helping me with the tedious/repetitive tasks involved in preparing the 2,040 surveys for distribution ~ and their belief in me, through it all.



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