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A Challis man who was caught illegally digging up artifacts from a Shoshone-Bannock tribal cultural site was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution.

Court records say Alan Thorkelson, 38, was caught while in the process of digging for artifacts at the Devil Canyon Archaeological Site in October 2017. The site, located southeast of Challis near Antelope Flat, contained three prehistoric rock shelters that had been lived in and decorated with pictographs by the Shoshone-Bannock tribes.

Bureau of Land Management officials, who were actively monitoring the remote site due to recent cases of graffiti and trespassing, caught Thorkelson while he was digging a hole in the floor of one of the shelters. When questioned, Thorkelson admitted that he had not applied for a permit and knew that unauthorized digging was illegal.

The case was investigated by the Custer County Sheriff's Office and the Bureau of Land Management before it was taken to federal court. Thorkelson pleaded guilty to the unauthorized excavation in federal court in March and on April 29, Idaho's U.S. District Judge David Nye sentenced him to pay restitution for the damage he had caused at the site.

“My office is dedicated to protecting archaeological resources on public and tribal lands,” U.S. Attorney Bart Davis said in a news release.

Contact Brennen with news tips at 208-542-6711.

Kauffman reports on health care and city events for the Post Register.

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