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Scout Leader Pleads Guilty To Entering Sacred Site

Canyon De Chelly National Monument

National Park News

On October 6th, William Steele, 58, of Texas, pled guilty in federal court to entering canyons in the park without a guide and to entering archeological ruins. He was sentenced to a year’s unsupervised probation, during which time he is banned from all national park areas in Arizona, and a $1,500 fine. According to the affidavit, on August 22, 2005, Steele, an associate director for the Cub Scout Division of the Boy Scouts of America, was observed by park visitors entering Yucca Cave, an inner canyon archeological site that contains Native American ruins dating back to 750 A.D., including a kiva (a religious structure), ancient habitation architecture, and rock art. The cave is considered sacred by both the Navajo and Hopi peoples. "This was an excellent cooperative effort between park rangers and archeologists, a National Park Service special agent, and the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Elaine F. Leslie, the park’s acting superintendent. "Hopefully, this case will help educate visitors to our national parks and all archeological sites on federal and tribal lands to respect these important historical and cultural treasures." The investigation in this case was conducted by an NPS special agent and park rangers. The prosecution was handled by Camille D. Bibles, assistant U.S. attorney, District of Arizona, Flagstaff.


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