And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

From: Pat Morris <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

               Tribal ceremony to mark return of sacred artifacts
By Michelle Rushlo, Associated Press, 09/17/99 05:56

PHOENIX (AP) Four sacred artifacts being returned to the Navajo Nation are but a few 
of many treasured items lost over the years to thieves, tribal officials say.

Navajo leaders planned a public prayer ceremony today in Window Rock to mark the 
artifacts' return after more than a decade spent out of tribal hands.

''These artifacts were given to the Navajo people by our superiors, the powers,'' said 
Steven Begay, a Navajo cultural specialist. ''For other people to have those items was 
not what they were intended for. They don't know how to use them or what they are used 

The centuries-old items have been identified by federal investigators as a mask, a 
tortoise shell and two coverings that may be drum heads or ceremonial vessel coverings.

Begay declined to say what the items were or how they are used.

Dozens of items held by museums and private collectors have been returned voluntarily 
to the tribe since federal legislation in 1990 cracked down on looting of American 
Indian sites.

The latest objects being returned are among the few the Navajos have received through 
criminal investigations.

Noel Johns, an agent with the Bureau of Land Management, said investigators recovered 
the artifacts in 1991 after tracking them to dealers in Santa Fe, N.M., and New York. 
He said they had been taken from a cave in northwestern New Mexico in 1986, before it 
was a crime.

The mask was recovered from a Tucson home. The other objects were found at a Santa Fe 

A New Mexico man pleaded guilty in 1992 to selling the artifacts.

Johns said it has taken years to return the objects to the Navajo because federal 
regulations require that authorities ensure the objects are being returned to the 
proper tribe.

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