More on the Utah Antiquities Investigation

Patty Henetz has more on the Four Corners antiquities investigation for the Salt Lake Tribune. It seems one of the defendants of Native descent simply walked onto reservations and purchased bowls, Hopi kachina masks, Sun Dance skulls, eagle feathers, knives, pots and fetishes from members of the tribe.

More than 20 tribes live on pueblos in the Southwest; all pueblos are reservations that include no private land. The pueblo tribes consider themselves the descendants of the people popularly known as Anasazi, who migrated away from their cultural center in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon between the 12th and 13th centuries after years of drought and famine.

Last fall, [Christopher Selser, a antiquities dealer accused of wrongdioing] invited [another buyer] and the [undercover antiquities dealer cooperating with Federal authorities] into his home, where Hopi kachina masks were hanging on the walls. The affidavit alleges that Selser, who talked about buying objects Cavaliere got from the pueblos, said he sold artifacts at a Paris trade show and that Europeans “love this kind of material.”

The court papers say Selser showed off a kachina mask he said he got from the Hopi Third Mesa — which includes Old Oraibi, the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States, existing since around A.D. 1050.

A Hopi consultant told federal authorities that all kachina masks are considered living gods and not items a tribal member would have been allowed to sell.

During one transaction, court papers say, the Source ran into an Arizona couple he used to deal with who sold him two Hopi bowls from the tribe’s Second Mesa they had bought from Schenck.

The bowls had “kill holes” in them, ritual defacings made during burial ceremonies.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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