Bones of Contention

There probably isn't a square foot of the Florida Keys that hasn't been trod upon by someone at one time or another. As far as terra firma is concerned, the Keys are about as undiscovered as I-95. But when you're talking shells, both living and long dead, the island chain...
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There probably isn't a square foot of the Florida Keys that hasn't been trod upon by someone at one time or another. As far as terra firma is concerned, the Keys are about as undiscovered as I-95.

But when you're talking shells, both living and long dead, the island chain is more like the dark side of the moon. A mile from any T-shirt shack, one can find specimens that are unknown to science and thus unnamed. No one knows what's there because it's never been properly mapped.

That's where Dr. Ed Petuch comes in. "Believe it or not, for all the people living down there, there have been no papers written about the different molluscan communities," says Petuch, a geology professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

With the aid of a grant from the National Science Foundation, Petuch is planning to fill the Florida Keys molluscan knowledge void. And he's the scientist to do it. He has a doctorate in oceanography from the University of Miami, he's conducted research on collections kept at the Smithsonian Institution, he worked at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, and he is an associate at the Field Museum in Chicago. He has discovered and named nearly a thousand new species of shells -- half of them living, half fossilized. (Most people in his field specialize in one or the other.)

If Petuch gets funding for his Keys study, he plans to take his shells straight to the Field Museum, which will make the Windy City the repository of rare and important shells collected in Florida. The choice of museums is odd because, in addition to his numerous other positions, Ed Petuch is the only paid scientist on the staff of the Graves Museum of Archaeology & Natural History in Dania Beach.

So why won't this South Florida geologist take his precious slice of South Florida's natural history to the South Florida museum that employs him?

"I cannot get those people off their asses to make it a real museum," Petuch grumbles.

A harsh assessment of an institution with roots that go all the way back to 1959 -- almost antiquity in South Florida -- and a large, dedicated following of employees and volunteers who have donated countless hours to preserving this area's history. It's also a bold statement, considering that the Graves Museum, the only natural history museum in South Florida, counts among its collection thousands of priceless pre-Columbian artifacts and one of the world's most important dinosaur skeletons. Nonetheless, it's an opinion shared by many, including the woman whose name is on the building.

Three years ago the museum's board of governors parted ways with its eponymous director, Gypsy Graves, and severed ties with the Broward County Archaeological Society (BCAS), the organization of avid amateur archaeologists and paleontologists that owned the place until 1996. It was a bloodless coup: The new regime cleaned house and changed the locks. They publicly thanked Graves for her hard work, then proclaimed it was time to focus on running the place more like a business than a hobby.

"We all said she had "founder's syndrome,'" says one Graves employee, who asked not to be named, of the ousted director. "She wouldn't let go."

But the new leaders lost more than a local archaeological legend when they shuffled Graves out the door; they also lost the support of the BCAS, whose members believe they were tricked into relinquishing control of the place, and the respect of many people who passionately believe that museums should put science before entertainment.

Now the society is preparing a lawsuit against the museum, seeking to force its way back into a leadership role. A victory for the society would put an end to the maddening irony of Gypsy Graves' exile from the museum that bears her name. Graves herself is helping lead the charge.

Ed Petuch, for one, will be rooting for the plaintiffs. "Mostly [the new leaders] don't even know what they're doing," he says. "These people do not know how to run a museum. Gypsy did."

Gypsy Graves likes to be outside. So despite the lingering heat of a late October day and the drone of traffic from nearby I-95, she ushers a visitor to the back porch of her home on the New River in Dania Beach. "I have always had an interest in anything outdoors," she says in her soothing Kentucky drawl. "Geology, biology, archaeology. My anthropology teacher told me nobody in their right mind would want to be an archaeologist, because you are out in the heat and the rain and the bugs all the time. That's for me."

She pulls up a chair to face the river and puts a pack of Virginia Slims 120s and a lighter within easy reach on the patio table. Graves is not a talkative woman; in quiet moments she lights up a smoke and stares out at the river. But she is energetic. Realizing she has brewed coffee but forgotten to serve it, she almost jumps out of her chair and bounds to the kitchen, muttering an apology that gets lost in the white noise of her back yard. She's 70 years old and walks with a stoop, but neither characteristic slows her down.

Graves wears her gray-streaked dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. On this day, as on most, she's casually attired in shorts, a pullover shirt, and sneakers. It's rare to find her dressed any other way.

After 37 years in the same Rio Vista house, Graves recently moved to her new place in Dania Beach. Her house sits on almost a full acre of land at the terminus of 46th Drive. Inside, intricately carved wooden animals and masks from Africa poke out of mover's boxes, while a series of vibrantly colored paintings she bought in Haiti line the couch, waiting to be hung. Directly to the east of her home is the Banyan Bay Marina, owned and operated by Graves' daughter, Kate Gaskill, who also lives next door. "It's the Graves compound," says Gypsy with a smile.

The Graves compound is also close to the airport. Overhead a plane making its final approach drowns out conversation for a full minute. Instead of raising her voice to fight the noise, Graves uses the time to light another cigarette. When it's relatively quiet again, she explains one of her favorite hobbies: chasing solar eclipses.

"I went through Thailand four years ago for an eclipse," she says. "I've been to eight of them now. I went to one last year in Iran. Hot. I had to wear those damn veils; all the time the temperature was way over 100. Then I went to Ireland from there. The temperature was 60."

In fact she's been all over the world. Graves is one of only a handful of female initiates of the Explorer's Club, an international group of scientists and explorers whose flag has been planted on tough-to-access places like Mount Everest.

In 1985 she was one of eight women on the first all-female team permitted to excavate in Egypt. "We did mainly surveying, magnetometer graphic mapping to prove our instruments," she says in a matter-of-fact tone lacking any hint of boast. "We found a storehouse with 26 intact or restorable pots." She returned to Egypt in 1986 and 1988 for similar explorations. She's excavated in South America, dived to shipwrecks off the Florida coast, and dug up some of Broward County's most important Native American sites. She's been invited by the Cuban government to travel to Cárdenas, east of Havana, this spring to excavate a site that could establish a link between the Indians of Florida and the Caribbean.

When a BCAS member traveled to Vatican City to see an art exhibit and found it closed, Gypsy faxed a letter and got the woman access. When an art historian who happens to be a friend of Gypsy's couldn't get into the Kremlin library, Gypsy shot off a missive, and again the doors swung wide.

One of her best stories involves world-famous fossil hunter Richard Leakey helping her get a bag of elephant bones out of Kenya. "By the time I left Zaire and went to Kenya, I had found a lot of stuff," she recalls. "The guide was unhappy because I took it with me. The elephant bones were important to me because when you are identifying bones, you need an actual bone to compare it with.

"I put the stuff in a garbage bag and went to Leakey's museum and asked him how I could get it to the United States. He said, "By God, you should be in jail right now!' Then he said, "All right,' and gets out an application. He is an official collector for the Kenyan national museum in Nairobi. And then he took all the bones and had them packaged and sealed and sent to us in the museum."

She chuckles remembering the story, and the chuckle brings on a slight smoker's cough. "I acquired a lot of things that way," she says.

Graves was born Ottilie Rose Cosden in Texas. Her nickname is a reference to baby's breath, the genus name of which is Gypsophila. The family moved to Kentucky, where she grew up raising and racing horses. She studied medicine at Transylvania University in Lexington but switched her major to geology when she met her future husband, George Graves. They married when she was a junior, and Gypsy earned a bachelor's degree with a double major in geology and biology in 1950.

The couple moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1962. Gypsy had always loved Florida and was anxious to escape Kentucky winters, "which are the dreariest in the world." Her first vocation in Florida was cattle ranching. She owned a 550-acre spread in Palm Beach County, where she kept 120 cattle and a few horses and grew sod. It wasn't a family venture -- George Graves was a stockbroker. The ranch was Gypsy's business.

When the commute to Palm Beach got to be too much -- U.S. Highway 27 was two lanes in those days -- she sold the ranch and became a full-time mom, raising one son and three daughters. Her youngest is now 38 years old, her eldest 49.

In the late '70s, she went back to school at FAU and joined the Broward County Archaeological Society. Her kids were in school by then, and her friends were into pastimes far too sedate for Graves' taste. "They were out playing golf," she says. "That wasn't for me." She got her master's in anthropology in 1982 and followed it with a second bachelor's (also in anthropology) in 1983.

Meanwhile the BCAS was sitting on more than 30 years' worth of artifacts dug up around South Florida, plus items collected by its 100-plus members in their own travels. The society had a treasure trove of everything from pre-Columbian pottery to fossilized camel skeletons to Tequesta Indian artifacts. What the group did not have was a decent place to store and display this material.

In 1980 the society had obtained a tiny 1700-square-foot storefront on the south side of the New River where the parking lot for the Broward County Jail is today. The place was barely big enough to house the volunteers who staffed it, but it was a start.

The BCAS asked Graves to be the museum director. Having never done anything like that in her life, she naturally accepted. Only then did she set about learning how to run a museum. "We started out the first three months sitting on the floor talking and bringing in museum professionals to find [out] what to do and how to develop it," she recalls.

The museum, then called simply the Broward County Archaeological Society, quickly outgrew the space; after five years the society moved across the New River to a building on Flagler Street. At 5000 square feet, it was a much larger space, and at a rent of $2 per year from the Broward County public school district, the price was right.

But the collection was growing too fast for even the new location to hold it -- thanks in no small part to the fruits of Graves' own adventures throughout the '80s. In 1992 Graves put up $250,000 of her own money to finance a mortgage for a 50,000-square-foot building on Federal Highway in Dania. "We just stuck out our necks and did it," she says, downplaying her own risk-taking through use of the plural. Their new home was an old pencil factory that had sat vacant for two years. BCAS volunteers (the society had no employee at the time) scrubbed an inch of dust off the floors and carted away tons of abandoned machinery in their yearlong process of turning the factory into a museum. It opened in October 1993.

Opening-night eve Gypsy and four others stayed up all night attending to last-minute details. After all, they were expecting Gov. Lawton Chiles. The next morning they instead received a Dania building inspector bearing bad news: too many code violations. The city couldn't let them open. Gypsy put in a call to the city manager and got a temporary certificate of occupancy. Chiles and other dignitaries showed up. The new Graves Museum of Archaeology & Natural History was in business.

Some people are so adept at motivating others they can make long hours for low or no pay seem like the Lord's work, substitute vision and opportunity for niceties like health insurance and retirement plans, and make you see the stars, even as your feet are planted in sawdust and covered in sweat. Those who worked at the museum in the old days unequivocally state that Gypsy Graves is just such a person.

"I was in there helping them build the place," recalls Ed Petuch. "It was 100 degrees at least; we were all stripped down to our bathing suits, working to set up the cabinets for months. I said, "Wow, here we really have a chance to do something important.'"

It was the right place and the right time. More than five million people lived in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, yet not a single museum of natural history (except, of course, the two earlier and much smaller BCAS operations) existed. To Petuch's way of thinking, that was a wrong he was working to right. "We should have one of the greatest museums in the country here," he says. "We deserve it."

They built forests, tepees, chickee huts, and canoes. They painted the walls with scenes depicting everything from the Everglades to Machu Picchu (a particularly intricate, beautiful mural). They concocted interesting and novel ways to present static items like ancient skulls and Native American pottery.

Tim Cummings is a carpenter who built many of the cabinets and display cases at the museum. No museum could exist without someone like him. "You could sense the electricity in the air," he remembers. "We were going to go someplace. We did something everyone thought was impossible -- we started with a factory and in one year turned it into a museum."

Cummings now lives in Atlanta, where he's a freelance display builder. He can build an artificial mountain or tell you more than you'd want to know about detailing the bark on a fake tree -- skills he sharpened under Graves' tutelage. "Gypsy is a leader," he says. "She's a little tiny duck, but she is a human powerhouse. She has the ability to inspire people and bring out the best in them."

At least as important as her leadership skills was Graves' joie de vivre. She liked to have fun, and Graves Museum parties were the stuff of legend. For her first Halloween bash in the new building, she brought in clowns, acrobats, and two live elephants parked in the lobby to greet guests. Each year for the Winterfest Boat Parade, museum workers would construct a giant dinosaur on a yacht and party their way down the New River. "We were enthusiastic, and we did have fun," she says. Then she pauses. "I don't see any joy down there now."

For three years Graves worked 12 to 16 hours a day in the new building. She worked people half her age into the ground, recalls Cummings. "She would get to work in the morning before I got there. She would be there at ten at night when I left, and she would put you in the dirt along about three in the afternoon."

Despite Graves' boundless energy and the enthusiasm of the all-volunteer BCAS, the museum was simply getting too big. If the museum was to continue growing, it needed paid staff to tend to business and chase grants. "We felt we needed to make a change and bring in some professional-administrator types," says Rudy Pascucci, who was president of the BCAS at the time.

So the group consulted its attorney, Karl Adler, who advised the members to incorporate the museum and subsume the BCAS into that corporation -- to make the BCAS an arm of the museum, which itself would become a nonprofit organization. Adler suggested creating a board of governors for the museum, distinct from the BCAS' board of directors. The museum's board would be in charge of business; the BCAS' board would handle science and exploration. "It would be a two-headed animal," Pascucci recalls.

The BCAS put the proposal to a vote at its annual meeting in December 1995; Pascucci remembers it passing overwhelmingly -- though BCAS members voiced concerns about revenue splits with the museum and ownership of artifacts. But they were in a hurry at that meeting, because the full membership might not get together again for another year. Adler's advice, Pascucci says, was to accept the arrangement as codified in a new set of bylaws and deal with the details later.

Members did just that. They regretted it later. "This is the danger of voting something on [the basis of] the attorney saying, "We'll fix it later, just do it now,'" Pascucci laments.

Doug Endsley, a former United Way executive, became the museum's first executive director. Endsley committed to and served just one year. His successor was Bob Kelley, a man with no background in archaeology or museums when he took the top job in early 1997. Kelley retired from the museum in November. Contacted by New Times during his last days on the job, Kelley said he was suffering from heart trouble and would not be available for an interview.

According to a résumé filed in compliance with grant requirements, Kelley is a licensed mental-health counselor and an adjunct professor of psychology and philosophy at Broward Community College. He has worked in Broward County government, at Nova Southeastern University as a therapist, and as a minister in churches in Florida and Kentucky.

Other key museum officials' résumés are similarly void of museum experience. Sharon McMorris, director of development, worked at Planned Parenthood before she took a job at Graves Museum. Her employment history includes stints as a nonprofit consultant and a grant writer for the City of Hollywood. Charles Zidar, the assistant director under Kelley and now the acting director, has a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from Ohio State University. He is currently working on a museum studies degree from the University of Oklahoma and has been an active avocational archaeologist since the early 1990s.

Kelley, by all accounts, was an authoritarian manager who liked his staff deferential and his meetings on time. "We called him the bus driver," says Cummings. "He would say, "Now I am the bus driver, and everyone else is the passenger.'"

He staffed the museum's board of governors with business people, accountants, and marketers, then involved them increasingly in the day-to-day operation of the place. And he locked horns with Graves almost from day one. "He wanted Gypsy out of there," Pascucci says.

Friction between the two was inevitable. Kelley was a compulsive micromanager. Graves led by personality and instinct. And she thought Kelley and his cohorts were paying themselves too much and not putting enough into the museum. (In 1998 Kelley earned about $73,000 a year in salary and benefits, according to IRS forms, while McMorris made almost $70,000. Zidar's salary isn't listed, but he told New Times he now makes about $55,000 as acting director. Graves never drew a salary.)

Graves' optimism and enthusiasm were steadily replaced with a sense that the museum's business was business, says Michael Vaden, a world-class taxidermist who worked there in the early days. "Everything we had hoped [for] and dreamed of just got shot down the toilet," he sighs.

Vaden, who now lives in Atlanta, says the new management made stupid mistakes, such as refusing an invitation from a very wealthy, philanthropy-minded South African family to come to their reserve and harvest animals for display in the museum. "They invited us to come collect in Africa," he says. "It got shot down for the views of two or three people [on the new board of governors] who didn't agree [with] the idea of harvesting animals for museums."

The family, says Vaden, took the refusal as a snub and instead befriended the British Museum -- to which they later donated $3.5 million.

Ed Petuch recalls the time the museum had a chance to purchase 9000 acres of prime dinosaur-hunting ground in Wyoming with only a $30,000 down payment, but Kelley couldn't put the deal together. "Bob came out there and said, "Yes, yes, I want this.' He got the poor owner all excited, then dragged the thing on for two years. They never did buy it."

And then there was the matter of the Dead Sea scrolls.

In 1997 Graves pulled some strings and got permission to have a traveling exhibit on the ancient fortress of Masada stop in South Florida, in her museum, before returning to Israel. It was a real coup; the exhibit included ten of the original Dead Sea scrolls. To this day Graves believes the display would have brought thousands of people through the door -- she even made arrangements with Ticketmaster to help handle the throngs.

But the board of governors had something more paleontologic in mind, she recalls with more than a tinge of bitterness in her voice. "Bob Kelley and [then­ board president] Skip Johnston said, "If you want to do that, you get the money and do it yourself. We are going to do dinosaurs.' It was really the final blowup," she adds.

The ill will between Graves and Kelley boiled over shortly thereafter. In June 1997 when the board of directors met, they decided to bestow upon Graves the title of "distinguished founder," while stripping her of any meaningful role. Pascucci spoke in her defense at that meeting. "I argued that she should be given funding [for scientific research]. That kind of set me in the wrong light with some of the people on the board of governors. I was just trying to be fair. I was certainly by then seen as Gypsy's boy."

Her philosophical differences with the board, coupled with that body's overt attempts to muscle her out, became too much for Graves. In late 1997 she decided to pack it in. She asked for a couple days to get her things together, and the board of governors agreed, but before she was finished boxing up her things, she showed up one day and found the locks on the museum doors changed. Kelley had literally locked her out, fearing that Graves would take all of her extensive collection with her.

She sued in April 1998 and settled with the museum in mediation. Graves got $140,000 to compensate her for money she'd put up to buy the new building as well as a good portion of her artifacts, including a Constantine gold coin, a Byzantine oil lamp, a seal from the tomb of Rameses II, and the head of a sacred cow.

Graves hasn't been back to the museum since, except for a brief visit at a Halloween party in 1999. Administrators still call it the Graves Museum of Archaeology & Natural History on museum letterhead, but the word Graves is in type one-third the size of the other lettering.

She doesn't know what the place looks like on the inside anymore, and she doesn't like the way it looks on the outside. "It used to be sort of a basic pink with archways painted on it, very distinctive. Now it looks like a warehouse. I'm not impressed with it."

At the same time Graves was leaving, the BCAS itself was being shown the door, according to then­BCAS president Pascucci, through a bit of legal treachery on the part of their own lawyer.

Pascucci had just been elected president of the BCAS. By his understanding of the bylaws, that entitled him to a seat on the museum's board of directors. But Karl Adler, formerly the BCAS' attorney, now representing the museum, didn't see it that way. "At that time the board was voting on, how do I put this, on how to throw Gypsy out of the museum," Pascucci says. "They were concerned that, since I had a history of standing up for Gypsy, I would be a fly in the ointment. A week or so before that meeting, Karl Adler called me at home. He said, "I have looked over the bylaws, and you are really not entitled to automatic representation on the board.'"

Without a seat on the board, the BCAS suddenly had no say in museum affairs. From that point forward, they were effectively denied access to the collection they themselves had created.

Charles Zidar is an affable man, but if museum directors have an aura, he doesn't exude it.

Maybe it's his age. At 33 years old, there's just no way to achieve the rumpled-academic­meets­weather-beaten relic hunter look of, say, Sean Connery as Indiana Jones' dad. Maybe it's his clothing. His dress is casual, with his glasses around his neck on a string and the top few buttons of his plaid shirt undone, but in a very meticulous way. One might expect a museum director to look a touch disheveled. Or it could be his desk. Zidar looks a little lost behind the hulking wooden desk in the second-floor director's office. He tends to sit straight up in his chair, hands in his lap, as he talks.

Whether or not he looks the part, Zidar is the museum's director until the board of governors launches a search to replace Bob Kelley. In Zidar they have someone who knows the place. He's been there six years, serving as the assistant director for both Gypsy Graves and Kelley. And he's proud of what both his predecessors have accomplished. "Gypsy did a wonderful job of getting it to this point," he says, "but Gypsy wanted to do it all."

More important in these acrimonious times, the board has a director who thinks it might be time to patch up the relationship with the BCAS. "I would like to build a bridge with anyone who has been disenfranchised [from] the museum," says Zidar in his best directorspeak. But even he questions whether he's the one who can do it. "Sometimes I feel like my hands are tied," he says. "I've always been the number two man. Maybe I could start the bridge-building, but in a sense I am still the number two man, with the board in charge."

Walking a visitor through the museum, Zidar talks a lot about his plans -- big plans for such a little place. And the bean counter in him loves to point out how the museum has made do with very little.

"This only cost $4000," he says of the North American Hall, a corner of the museum that includes a view inside a tepee, a North Woods scene, and an unfinished pond from which stuffed eagles will take flight one day soon.

He'd like to raze some rundown houses the museum owns directly east of its building and add 30,000 square feet to the place. He'd like to transform the upstairs of the main building into an interactive, hands-on exhibit that walks visitors through the life of a paleontologist. He'd like to include a full-scale Tyrannosaurus rex in that second-floor display, but the ceiling might be too low. "It would have to be crouching like it's hunting or eating," he says.

Right now the museum looks a little rough around the edges. Some of the exhibits are small -- the Egypt display could fit in a typical family room. The occasional extension cord runs overhead. A room on the first floor has a big sign over the door proclaiming it the dinosaur room, but inside the space there's a display called "Silk and Steel," which is a collection of Chinese art and artifacts recently acquired by the museum. The dinosaurs are now upstairs on the cavernous second floor, which looks about half finished.

To help finance Zidar's vision of how the place should look, the museum is betting heavily on finding some corporate sponsorship. Current revenue streams just aren't getting it done -- last summer the museum had to let virtually its entire scientific staff go because of a lack of money. "We want to do more research, but our focus is not necessarily the science at this point. It's the kids and education things."

As if on cue, a tour group of elementary-school kids rushes by the Africa Hall, where Zidar is explaining the importance of school tours. Other than two such tours, the museum is almost empty. The tours are an important source of income but not a huge one: Almost half of the 65,000 patrons last year were school kids, earning the museum about $84,000. Museum officials also rent the place for parties and sleepovers, which put another $15,300 in the coffers. Every little bit counts.

State and local grants are also a big slice of the funding pie. Last year the museum landed a $500,000 grant to pay for improvements to the building, a good portion of which went for renovations to the second floor that nearly doubled the display space. It has also scored about $143,000 in grants from the Broward County Arts Council since 1998.

That helps. But for critics like Petuch, it's too little too late. The museum should be investing in science, he maintains, so it can justify going for big grant money -- millions of dollars -- from the deep pockets places like the National Science Foundation. "I know museums," he says. "I have worked at museums since I was a kid. It makes me very frustrated. They just don't listen."

Real museums, Petuch asserts, are not sideshows that must bring people in the door to survive. "You're lucky [if the sum of admissions] pays the overhead," he snorts. Scientific endeavor brings with it credibility and respect, he says, which begets notoriety, which begets more grant funding.

But first you have to be serious about science, and the Graves Museum, he asserts, is anything but. The heart of any museum, he says, is the "range," museum jargon for the shelves and cabinets that house the institution's collections. The range is almost never open to the public; in fact the vast majority of any museum's collection is never shown. But the range is the first thing visiting scientists want to inspect. It is the very definition of a museum's worth.

The Graves doesn't have a proper range, he says. Instead they have a back room where things are stacked nearly to the ceiling in cardboard boxes. "Without having a range room, there is no museum," says Petuch. "I have been telling them from day one. They redesigned the whole museum, and there is not a single range room."

To this day Karl Adler insists that the BCAS is not entitled to have a representative on the museum's governing body, because the group gave up rights to its name when it agreed to the new bylaws. The museum registered "Broward County Archaeological Society" as a fictitious name when the museum changed its own name to honor Graves, he adds, and therefore the museum alone has the right to the name.

In other words, according to Adler, the old BCAS no longer exists. "We even had a meeting on this," he says. The BCAS "is not even the same group. They have strangers and other people. This is kind of a political thing."

Nonsense, says BCAS lawyer Norliza Batts. "These are the same people. The people in power there are simply being vindictive, and they have a lot of greed." Batts, who says she's "close" to filing a lawsuit against the museum's board of directors on behalf of the BCAS, claims that Adler had an inherent conflict of interest when he recommended changing the museum's bylaws. "Our position is that the BCAS never would have given up anything or never would have given up any rights to artifacts, collections, or a seat on the board if they'd had an attorney who was representing their interests and their interests alone," she says. "In effect Karl Adler was working both sides of the fence."

The BCAS, she says, wants a seat on the board, access to its artifacts, and a say in defining the museum's mission. Gypsy Graves herself will not be content with a symbolic role in this fight. Yes, the battle itself will concern bylaws, organizational charts, and other corporate-law minutiae. But the septuagenarian archaeologist knows what's really at stake here.

"We are going to take the museum back," she declares, "and run it the way it should be."

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