(US) Request for ideas on sensitive issue (was

Hugh W. Jarvis (hjarvis@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Wed, 29 May 1996 13:01:53 -0400

Anyone have any ideas here? Please post to the original sender, and
please consider the serious nature of this subject.

Hugh Jarvis...hjarvis@acsu.buffalo.edu
...tis better to be silent and thought a fool
than to reply and remove all doubt... (oops)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Subject: NAGPRA-Trafficking-Ritual Objects
Date: Tuesday, May 28, 1996 7:50PM

[ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ]:

From: William J. Whatley <quasho@ix.netcom.com >


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.


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.