One Of Two Stolen Centuries Old Artifacts Returned To Watertown Zoo

The Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown says one of two stolen artifacts has been returned. The artifacts, which are on loan from the South Dakota Archaeological Society, were discovered missing last week. They’re estimated to be hundreds of years old.

Bramble Park Zoo Director Dan Miller said pointing to a display case, “We had it on like this.”

Miller says he was doing a regular check of their displays last Monday when he discovered that a case was open.

“The case was there, but there was pieces missing in the case,” said Miller.

He says two Bone Awls were gone. The tools, made out of deer bone by Native Americans, were on loan through 2018.

“You can see how artistic they were,” Miller said.

The state Archeological Society estimates them to be around 500 to 600-years-old.

Miller said, “They could easily be damaged.”

Miller says he arrived at work Monday morning with a note on his desk from an officer with the Watertown Police Department. They recovered one of the two pieces stolen. Police say a juvenile came forward, but wouldn’t release any more information.

“Whoever it may be, you know, a lot of times, they don’t even realize what they have,” said Miller.

Miller says they don’t have cameras in the area where the artifacts were taken; only outdoors at the zoo for security reasons. However, it’s believed that two different people are responsible.

Miller said, “I just feel bad that people would take things that are, that are important to the culture of South Dakota, especially the Native American culture.”

Miller says he just wants the artifacts back and an ‘I’m sorry’.

“Just an apology; an apology for what they’ve done,” said Miller.

Miller has been working at the zoo for 29 years. The only other thing that he can remember being stolen is a Squirrel Monkey taken around 15 to 20 years ago.

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