Message #176: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: NAGPRA-Trafficking-Ritual Objects Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 19:50:08 -0700 (MST) Mime-Version: 1.0 From: William J. Whatley THE SITUATION: In 1993, specific communally owned ritual artifacts belonging to the "People of the Pueblo of Jemez" in Northern New Mexico were observed for sale in a locked glass display case in Albuquerque at a consignment antique store. The Pueblos Governors and Traditional Tribal Leaders were brought down to the store to observe the objects. Through the locked glass, a number of objects were observed which the Tribal Leaders believed were genuine/authentic items of ritual status belonging to the Jemez People. The Unwritten Traditional Tribal Law (carried from prehistory) of the Pueblo of Jemez specifically states that any object of ritual design, regardless of the context of manufacture, is of ritual status and is communal property and can't be sold, traded, gifted, exchanged or otherwise divorced from the Jemez People, even by Tribal Members, even by the manufacturer, unless such action is authorized by the Supreme Council of Traditional Tribal Leaders. In short, ritual objects can't be privately owned. In 1848, the last authorized gifting of a ritual object took place and that object is now in the Smithsonian. No such authorization has been granted since that time. As such, the items in the glass cabinet evidently represent a theft of communally owned ritual property belonging to the Jemez People. A written deposition was signed by the Traditional Leaders stating their belief that, based on viewing through locked glass cabinets, said objects (06 total) were genuine and therefore stolen. USDI Criminal Investigators working in conjunction with the BIA CIs and the Pueblo of Jemez obtained a search and seizure warrant and confiscated the evidence along with receipts and tax records. These resulted in the identification and subsequent apprehension of the non-Indian who had presented said objects for sale. In the presence of the BIA CIs (1995), the ritual objects were observed (hands-on) again by the Pueblos Traditional Leaders. Of the six objects originally confiscated, absolute identification of genuine ritual status was made for three, and the other three were identified as Jemez, but the Traditional Leaders determined that they had been significantly altered, probably to enhance their saleability. For this reason, it was decided to pursue the three unaltered objects under NAGPRA trafficking. The case is now in the hands of the Assist. US Attorney, Albuquerque. The US Attorney would like for the Pueblo to disclose the secret "society" markings carried on each of the artifacts to help prove how they know the objects are authentic (this disclosure would violate the Pueblos Unwritten Traditional Tribal Laws). She also needs to know the date of the alleged "taking" ...or the date the objects were last seen/utilized by the Pueblos Traditional Leaders. Unfortunately, the prayer-sticks (object 01) are placed on outside shrines in remote locations, but on Tribal lands. When they disappear from the shrines, it is usually because the Spirits have taken the offering and no one questions this; the headress (object 02) is kept in a religious chamber along with similar ones hanging together on wooden wall pegs (ca. 15 to a peg/20-25 pegs); the headdress ornament (object 03) is actually removed from the headdress immediately after use and stored seperately in a religious chamber with similar ornaments. They are not used again until just prior to the next ceremony which could be more than a year later. In the meantime, no person disturbs the headdress or the headdress ornament because they are "resting". Hence, in all three cases, it would be almost impossible to notice, let alone say, when the items disappeared. The black-market dealer (well known) claims the six objects were manufactured for sale in another Pueblo by non-traditional Indian youth looking to make a quick dollar...that they are replicas...that he knows they are not genuine...that the objects are not even made by the Jemez People and the Jemez therefore have no right to prosecute him. Jemez Pueblo says that the items were likely stolen by non-traditional Jemez youth also looking to make a quick dollar. The Assist. US Attorney would like to obtain stronger evidence to prove the three objects are Jemez ritual items of communally owned status. In addition, this same US Attorney does not appear to be knowledgable about prior convictions for similar situations. As Tribal Archaeologist (or is that Counter-Archaeologist) for the Pueblo of Jemez, I have coordinated the successful repatriation of literally hundreds of ritual objects under both NAGPRA and Smithsonian Policy. I am certain that if the six ritual objects were in a museums possession, I could secure their return back to the Pueblo of Jemez. Evidently however, the same rules do not apply to prosecution for trafficking in the same stolen objects. THE QUESTION: Given the above situation, does anyone have any suggestions as to how the Pueblo of Jemez can provide stronger proof without disclosing secret society information, or prior case references that I can present to the US Attorneys Office to help them in prosecuting this case? Please excuse the spelling and thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this matter. Respectfully yours, William J. Whatley, Tribal Archaeologist Pueblo of Jemez PS: My email address of "Quasho@ix.netcom.com" will change on June 1st to a new address that is unknown at this time.