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.