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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Giles Ebert shares his passion, 10,000 years old

Artifacts and relics on display

By Autumn Schanil - staff writer

By: Autumn Schanil | Democrat
Filled with arrowheads, pieces of traded pipe and a few spear heads, this case alone has most than 100 pieces of artifact found by Giles Ebert.
CALLICOON — He sometimes was seen out in the corn fields, directly behind the plow, scouring the worked Earth, row by row, for hours and hours.
Most often he was seen in the rain, moving slowly, looking for the glint or shine from the exposed and freshly washed flint that most people mistake for just another stone or a clump of dirt.
Callicoon resident, Giles Ebert, has a collection of Native American artifacts that dates back thousands of years. A few, nearly ten thousand years.
And he'll be presenting and sharing stories about some of his collection this Saturday, September 24, at 1:00 p.m.
at the Delaware Free Branch of the Western Sullivan Public Library in Callicoon.
“I started when I was 14 or 15,” said Ebert. “I was inspired by Ethan Allen and Red Jacket (Brandt) and so many others. My older brother gave me a book that was about finding artifacts and what to look for. That book really piqued my interest.”
Some of his first findings were broken “points,” or arrowheads as well as broken bead pieces across the Delaware River from Callicoon in Pennsylvania.
When asked how many artifacts he's found over the decades of careful searching, he took a moment to think to himself before replying that he most certainly had more than 1,000 different pieces in his collection.
“What makes me the happiest is when I have a day that I find anything,” laughed Ebert, “because some days you are out for hours and don't find a single thing.
“But especially if I find a complete point or a different style, something new that I haven't found before, that makes me really excited,” he continued. “A lot of it is luck and a lot of it is knowing what you are looking for.”
Ebert has found spear heads, net sinkers, mortar and pestles, gouges for digging out canoes, small axes or “Celts,” sinew stones, soapstone pottery for cooking and more. The oldest artifact dates back to 8,000 BC while others date to 2,000 and 3,000 BC.
“My favorite is this fish hook,” said Ebert, presenting a small, pristine hook, showcased behind glass in a wooden box with a red string around it. “It was carved from bone and the only other one like it that I've ever seen was in a museum.”
Completely self-trained and educated in his passion for artifact hunting, Ebert's collection was recognized by the National Park Service and was cited by scholars at SUNY Binghamton as being one of the most complete, impressive and well-documented collections that they have seen.
And the reason for his passion of collecting Native American artifacts specifically?
“I've done a lot of reading on the Native Americans. You hear an awful lot on the news, all the time about the blacks and the whites, and the racists. It happened and maybe it's still happening today, but the atrocities that were put on the Native Americans ... that's a big black mark in American history.
“They were treated very, very bad. As bad and worse than the slaves. At times they themselves were slaves. Deliberately infected with small pox and other diseases, they were massacred - whole tribes just wiped out,” explained Ebert. “They have a right to live just like anyone else. Maybe they weren't advanced in the way that we were advanced, but they had a life of their own. They made it for thousands of years living the way they did and they were still going strong until we came in and took over, crowding them in or wiping them out if we couldn't get our own way.”
He paused for a moment, tilting his head down, pondering while looking at the collection pieces laid out on the floor before him, all tucked in their own places, protected behind glass.
“There were broken treaties and so many other awful things. I guess I feel bad for all the hardships they were put through,” he voiced. “Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, he used to have all the appaloosa horses. He tried to avoid conflict with the white men in every way that he could. He marched his tribe to try to get to Canada and they finally stopped him about a mile from the Canadian border. But he had avoided conflict for hundreds and hundreds of miles. It turned into a five-day battle that ended with Nez Perce women and children being taken prisoner and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.”
Incredibly proud of his collection, for good reason, Ebert hopes to share its history with everyone who attends his program on Saturday. He's hoping that his collection can be viewed, witnessed and appreciated by countless others, not just stored away in someone's basement.
Ebert added, “I'm interested in finding the artifacts but I'm also interested in the history of the people who lived here before us.”
For more information you can visit or call 845-887-4040.

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