Message #111
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 

Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998
Subject: Hopi-Masks Dealer Draws 33 Month Prison Term


[ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] :

Hopi-masks dealer draws prison term
 
A man convicted of illegally dealing in Hopi religious
masks and other sacred Indian artifacts was sentenced
Monday to 33 months in federal prison. 

http://www.azcentral.com/news/0317sentence.shtml

Hopi-masks dealer draws prison term

By Charles Kelly, The Arizona Republic March 17, 1998

A man convicted of illegally dealing in Hopi religious
masks and other  sacred Indian artifacts was sentenced
Monday to 33 months in federal prison. 

Rodney Tidwell, 54, of Star Valley, drew the sentence,
plus about $12,000 in fines, from U.S. District Judge
Earl Carroll, who cited Tidwell's past violations of
the law in his artifacts business.

Tidwell told the judge before sentencing that he didn't
believe he was breaking the law when he bought Hopi
masks. 

"I did buy masks, but they had never been used in a
ceremony," Tidwell said. "I'm sorry I did it... I
realize now that replicas (of ceremonial masks) may be
just as important to the Indian people as the real
ones."

Carroll's court was packed for the sentencing, with
half the seating area occupied by Native Americans and
an even greater number of Tidwell's friends and family
members filling the rest of the seating and much of the
jury box.

Tidwell's wife, Pat, testified that Tidwell was
unfairly singled out for prosecution. Members of the
Hopi tribe besieged Tidwell with offers to sell artifacts,
she said, and illegal artifacts are in wide circulation.

"When you look at catalogs for Indian art, you will see
that many items that are illegal are offered for sale by
fancy auction houses," she said. "Rodney Tidwell has been
offered as a sacrificial lamb in this matter."

Tidwell's wife also said he was generous and thoughtful
with the Native Americans he dealt with, taking them
truckloads of fruits and vegetables, giving them clothes,
blankets, furniture and winter wear, and distributing
Christmas gifts to the children.

William Hinkley, a Phoenix resident who said he'd first
met Tidwell in 1972 when Hinkley was helping put together
a dictionary of Indian artifacts of the American
Southwest, described Tidwell as "a very honest,
straightforward man."

Prosecutors Paul Charlton and Diane Humetewa noted,
however, that Tidwell had been cited as long ago as 1970
for removing Indian artifacts from U.S. Forest Service
land, and was convicted previously in federal court in New
Mexico of trafficking in Native American cultural items.

Tidwell has five months to serve on that conviction, and
Carroll said once that sentence is complete, he would
consider whether to release Tidwell on bail pending his
appeal in his most recent convictions.

Tidwell was convicted Dec. 12 in federal court in Prescott
of 20 felony counts. He was found guilty of conspiracy,
illegal trafficking in Native American cultural items, theft
of tribal property, and trafficking in unlawfully removed
archaeological resources.

Evidence showed that Tidwell, starting in 1995, obtained
and sold 11 Hopi ceremonial masks. The jury also found that
Tidwell unlawfully transported and sold robes, vestments
and other liturgical items owned by an Acoma tribal society
known as the Altar Society. He represented the robes as
having belonged to Roman Catholic priests who died in a
Pueblo revolt of 1680.