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Aug 13, 2013 12:43 AM by Jason Laird - Q2 News

One in a Million: Billings collector displays 11,000 year old artifacts in basement

BILLINGS - A Billings resident's basement is more a museum than a living space. What began in 1941 created a collection of more than 3500 Native American artifacts.

At just 18-years-old, Ralph began the hunt to build his collection. It only took discovering a few arrow heads to get him hooked.

Ralph vividly recalls discovering his first arrow head, almost like it was yesterday. That day was May 28, 1941.

Despite a lifetime of collecting, the last 20 years have proven to be Ralph's most successful. He estimates most all of his collection was found in the last 20 years.

"I went for about 50 years without finding much," Ralph continued, "Then when I came to Billings, I was a retired farmer, and I didn't have anything to do."

This 91-year-old's desire to stay active, along with his eye for history, was only part of the game. Ralph says the best place to find artifacts is just east of a water source. Native Americans relied heavily on reliable water sources, creating heavy traffic to and from.

Tribes would stay to the east of the water source because of prevailing winds from west to east. This way they could go relatively undetected by wildlife and keep from spoiling a hunting location.

Enthusiast beware, this hobby can grow in a hurry. When asked if he ever envisioned his collections reaching this extent, he shook his head and smiled, "No. No way. I sure didn't!"

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