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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cortez Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For Damaging Archeological Resources In The Canyons Of The Ancients National Monument

DURANGO – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn today announced that Lonnie Shadrick Winbourn, age 57, of Cortez, Colorado, was sentenced to serve over a year in federal prison (12 months and one day), for violating the Archeological Resources Protection Act (“ARPA”) in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Winbourn appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody and was remanded at its conclusion.  The U.S. Bureau of Land Management joined in today’s announcement.

According to court documents, as well as facts presented during sentencing, Winbourn made several trips into a portion of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, near Cortez, Colorado, in May and June 2017.  During these trips, Winbourn located an Ancestral Puebloan ceremonial site with a large dance plaza, a likely subterranean kiva, and multiple human burials.  Winbourn illegally excavated, removed, damaged, and altered the site.  On June 4, 2017, Winbourn was pulled over and subsequently arrested on an unrelated warrant.  During the arrest, a Bureau of Land Management Ranger identified pottery shards in Winbourn’s pocket.  Winbourn admitted to the Ranger that he had additional artifacts in his backpack.  In total, law enforcement discovered sixty-four items from the Ancestral Puebloan Period in his possession, including jewelry, an axe head, and other tools.  Archeologists working in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument have restored the original site and curated the stolen objects.   

“Archeological resources at the Canyons of the Ancients are irreplaceable cultural artifacts that have been entrusted to the common good,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “Anyone who seeks to destroy or profit off of these resources will face prosecution and serious consequences.”    

“We as a society must recognize the importance of respecting all cultures; including those artifacts representing cultural resources of Native Americans.  The protection of Native American cultural resources continues to be a matter central to law enforcement officers and special agents of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management,” said Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Randall Carpenter, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Office of Law Enforcement.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is located west of Cortez, Colorado and is public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.  It contains the highest known archeological site density in the United States, with rich, well-preserved evidence of native cultures, to include the Ancestral Puebloan culture.

Winbourn was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 6, 2019.  The sentence was pronounced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Land Management.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Graves.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Jeff Dorschner Spokesman, Public Affairs Officer U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado 303-489-2047 cell; 303-454-0400 fax
Press Release Number: 
CASE NUMBER: 19-cr-00510
Updated June 10, 2020