Debate Continues Over Artifacts in Waterways

Montgomery, AL – A 1999 law is up for debate in the state Legislature. The law gave the Alabama Historical Commission control of the artifacts in state waterways. Divers and amateur collectors say the law should be rewritten, but museum curators and historical groups disagree. A Wednesday hearing on the issue drew about 100 people to the Statehouse. Birmingham dive shop owner and artifacts collector Steve Phillips and a friend were arrested in Selma in 2003 for taking a pre-Civil War rifle from the Alabama River without a permit. Tribal history preservation officer for Alabama's Poarch Creeks Robert Thrower says the collectors want an open invitation to exploit heritage.