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BS: Native artifacts

Ed T 12 Apr 13 - 08:55 AM
Bert 12 Apr 13 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Apr 13 - 10:03 AM
Jack the Sailor 12 Apr 13 - 10:28 AM
Greg F. 12 Apr 13 - 11:00 AM
Stu 12 Apr 13 - 11:23 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Apr 13 - 12:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Apr 13 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,sciencegeek 12 Apr 13 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,olddude 12 Apr 13 - 01:14 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Apr 13 - 01:48 PM
Jack the Sailor 12 Apr 13 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,sciencegeek 12 Apr 13 - 02:22 PM
Jack the Sailor 12 Apr 13 - 02:25 PM
Ed T 12 Apr 13 - 04:46 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Apr 13 - 04:52 PM
Greg F. 12 Apr 13 - 06:27 PM
Ed T 12 Apr 13 - 07:04 PM
eddie1 13 Apr 13 - 05:25 AM
Megan L 13 Apr 13 - 07:13 AM
artbrooks 13 Apr 13 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Futwick 13 Apr 13 - 09:15 AM
Ed T 13 Apr 13 - 10:13 AM
Stilly River Sage 13 Apr 13 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Futwick 13 Apr 13 - 12:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 13 - 12:16 PM
Stilly River Sage 13 Apr 13 - 12:21 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 13 - 12:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Apr 13 - 07:24 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Apr 13 - 10:23 AM

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Subject: BS: Native artifacts
From: Ed T
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 08:55 AM

Paris court ruled to allow an auction of dozens of Native American tribal masks considered sacred and stolen by the Hopi tribe.

Hopi Artifacts to be sold


Do you feel this ruling is correct, even considering that they could have been stolen, or removed under colonial duress?

Does private ownership negate the Hopi claim that the items are considered sacred by them?

Should a consideration of the impact of a ruling on museums be a factor?

Is there a double standard in play here?


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Bert
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 09:15 AM

If they were stolen in the first place then they are stolen property. I think that no excuses or statute of limitations should apply.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 10:03 AM

The same controversies were aroused by the pinching of the Elgin Marbles from Greece, and countless mummies and other tomb artefacts nicked from Egypt. I'm afraid colonials thought the world was theirs to loot and grab at will. I wonder if these things would be well cared-for if returned, and available for research and study? Whether or not, you can't justify hanging on to stuff you took without permission, so in general I'd be all for handing them back, and offering appropriate apologies to the original owners.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 10:28 AM

The article is a little thin on information. But without more to go on this may be a bit telling.

"Hopi representatives contend the items were stolen at some point, and wanted the auction house to prove otherwise."

Isn't the burden of proof on the accuser?

Couldn't someone who liked a mask bought it from an individual Hopi Indian willing to sell?


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Greg F.
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 11:00 AM

an individual Hopi Indian willing to sell

Unlikely.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Stu
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 11:23 AM

They should go back. In many cases, the study and research of artifacts of this nature can lead to misinterpretation if studied by people who are not of the culture that originated the objects originally. For instance, the museum in Manchester (UK) had an exhibition of Somali objects that had been 'collected' in the days of Empire. These objects all had labels with varying interpretations that scientists had offered as to their original function or significance. As Manchester has a large but quite insular Somali population a visiting day was set up to encourage more Somali visitors to the museum and promote engagement with the institution. Much to the surprise of the staff, the people who attended were able to correct them on a number of misinterpretations and enlighten them on the nature of some of the more mysterious artefacts. The event was deemed a big success by both sides.

When I was in Utah studying dinosaur tracks in the Navajo Sandstone I found a microlith in the wash where the trackways were. I showed it to a BLM ranger who was with us and she made me put it back in the exact spot where I found it. No doubt this wonderful object is now buried under tons of sediment now instead of being an object of interest I can show interested parties and compare with our own flints found on these islands, but that doesn't matter. It was never mine to start with, and the Navajo ask people to leave any objects they find in-situ, and that should be respected.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 12:49 PM

Articles held in the United States are subject to NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.
The Act encompasses materials held by museums, dealers, curators, students and private individuals.

Included are "objects of cultural patrimony," "sacred objects," and "unassociated funerary objects."

"Legal Briefs" are described, with notices of intent to repatriate, are published in each issue of "American Indian Art" magazine. Here is one entry from the Spring 2013 issue:
2. Notice of intent to repatriate Cultural items: University of Denver, Department of Anthropology and Museum of Denver.....
"Between 1951 and 1969, the museum accessioned four baskets of Yokuts origin." The entry goes on to describe the items. ".....objects defined under NAGPRA as "significant ceremonial objects.... and should be given to the Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Santa Rosa Rancheria (Tachi Yokut Tribe) of California."

Unfortunately, nothing can be done (unless proven stolen and subject of legal action) about items held abroad.

Other institutions named in the same issue are the American Museum of Natural History, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Dept. of Defence, Rochester Museum, state of California, and others (23 listings).


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 12:53 PM

Furhermore, it is illegal to remove items from federal lands. See post by Sugarfoot Jack, above.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 12:54 PM

a can of worms no matter the outcome... but is the knee jerk PC answer actually the best?

Mankind has been roaming around this planet for one hundred thousand years... and trading stuff... losing stuff for all that length of time as well. Even documented looting is hard enough to get sorted out in the end... ie. how much of the Nazi's loot is back where it belongs? And that was fairly recent.

Using the argument of sacredness isn't a sure thing... we have present day mosques built on former christian churches that used old greek and roman stonework for building materials. Anyone care to make that call?

Right now it is pretty much possession being 9/10's of the law. The point that anyone was free to bid is as "fair" as possible. Without a provenance showing where the items were obtained, it is moot how they got to Paris. Families and small tribal units often died out without any survivors, but their possessions remained behind.

I live in western New York State... and grew up on eastern Long Island. Both areas were part of native American tribal land. I'm not about to "give back" the 80 acres that I bought & live on if a Seneca tribe decides they want to bring suit. And there is just such a court case in central upstate NY, regarding reparations for large tracts of land that were taken during colonial times.

My point is that history is filled with just and unjust happenings. And it's easy to be self righteous when it's someone else who has to pay the price.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: GUEST,olddude
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 01:14 PM

Ok, the TV show mysteries at the Museum had an interesting story. An original copy of the Constitution was stolen during the civil war from the capital of SC.

The document was stolen by a union soldier who sold it for five dollars to a fellow soldier. The family of the fellow soldier kept it until 2001 and sold it to an antiques dealer.   The dealer tried to sell it at auction. The auction company notified the FBI, They seized the document and gave it back to the state of SC. For it was originally stolen. What is the difference here

In Europe, many high end paintings have been returned to Jewish families that were stolen by the Nazi's.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 01:48 PM

NPR: American Tribe Fights To Halt Artifact Auction In Paris

Someone in this story (I heard it when it was originally broadcast early in the week) said something about the acquisition of these "pre-dating NAGPRA" - but that isn't the case. It doesn't matter if it was collected before 1990.

They should go back. But being as they are in France and possession is 9/10ths of the law, I suspect they won't be sent back. Tribes have worked to raise money to buy back artifacts when they go up for sale, but with the news the price probably is going up as we speak.

That said, as I read this Fort Worth Kimbell Museum story I wondered at the provenience. "The sculptures entered the United States in 1968 and were in private collections in Europe and the U.S. until they were sold to the Kimbell in a private sale." How they entered, that is the question.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 02:22 PM

Olddude makes and excellent point. In the case of the constitution they could trace it back to the theft.

"The document was stolen by a union soldier who sold it for five dollars to a fellow soldier. The family of the fellow soldier kept it until 2001 and sold it to an antiques dealer.   The dealer tried to sell it at auction. The auction company notified the FBI, They seized the document and gave it back to the state of SC. For it was originally stolen. What is the difference here"

In the case of the Hopi Mask, as trader could have seen a mask on a wall and said
"That mask looks cool. where did you get it?"
Hopi Guy "I made it from a gourd."
Trader. "I'll give ya two blankets and a bottle of Jack Daniels"
Hopi Guy "Deal!"

Someone buying that mask today would have clear legal and moral title.

On the other hand. If the mask is only valuable in the auction today because it is culturally significant to the Hopi. That does seem like whoring their culture.

I guess it is complicated.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 02:22 PM

In the case of the paintings & copy of the Constitution, there is a provenance of sorts... historical documents. Once the item is authenticated, then you where it came from.

The Nazis stole anything & everything of any value... the valuables & gold "recovered" from the concentration camps is a gristly tale. Only a pittance of their loot found its way back to the original owners or their surviving family members.

To be honest... I'm more repulsed by the destruction of "artifacts" and cultures by intolerant zealots - religious or otherwise- bent on imposing their beliefs on others. The Spanish missionaries who destroyed anything that they felt was a heathen reminder of non Christian religion. The defacing of church artifacts by various communist groups. The list goes on...


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 02:25 PM

Would a Hopi today be able to make such a mask and sell it? How long before that would become an artifact protected under Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act?

It seems clearer if the article came from an archeology dig or was taken from a grave.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Ed T
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 04:46 PM

As to possession being 9/10th of the law: Is the major factor who (the might of) possesses it, and who (the might of) claims it is theirs?


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 04:52 PM

I used that old phrase because it is actually an old Saxon law that was and is in play in a lot of places. It has been a while since I took the philosophy class that discussed the evolution of such understandings as possession and the commons, so don't quote me on it.

The Hopi make a whole array of decorative kachinas for sale to tourists. But they don't make the religious ones for such a use. The distinction is very clear.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Greg F.
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 06:27 PM

What the heck were the South Carolinians doing with a copy of the Constitution at that point in time? Using it for toilet paper?

And why in heavans name would they want it back? So Lindsey Graham could read it for the first time?


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Ed T
Date: 12 Apr 13 - 07:04 PM

An interesting related USA case:

United States v. Schultz


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: eddie1
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 05:25 AM

This is a real nest of worms! Basically I tend to agree with such artifacts being returned to the original owners when of such cultural or religious/spiritual significance. I am of the firm opinion, for example, that the Elgin Marbles should go back to Greece.
I did read however, where a government destroyed a collection of precious artifacts, held in a museum, but were significant to a religion other than the "state" religion. Obviously these artifacts would have been safer elsewhere?

I'm not really any further forward - still confused.

Eddie


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Megan L
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 07:13 AM

It also begs the question. Where do you stop? should all Roman coins be returned to Italy, Viking goods found in burials or paintings returned to country of origin?


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: artbrooks
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 08:54 AM

SRS made a good point above (12 Apr 13 - 04:52 PM), and the NPR she article posted earlier is worth reading. These articles aren't "ceremonial masks", regardless of what the museum catalog said. They are katsinam, more popularly called katsinas - which is the name of the Hopi religion itself. Similar, but not identical, figures are sold in the tourist trade, and the Navaho make them as well (a discussion of the relationship between the Navaho and the Hopi can be left for another day). For that matter, I can go into a few local shops and find ones with 'Made in China' printed on the bottom.

I think it would have been appropriate to delay the sale to allow time for a Hopi expert to get there and weed out the sacred figures from the dreck.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 09:15 AM

Possession is NOT 9/10s of the law. Never has been, There is no such law on the books. If you go into court saying possession is 9/10s of the law, don't surprised if you lose. Ask the Patrick Hiyashi who ended up with Barry Bonds' home run record ball. It bounced out of one guy's hands and Hiyashi grabbed it. In baseball, you grab it, you own it. The other guy however took Hiyashi to court saying the ball was his because it hit his hands first. To me, I would have dismissed it. The judge ordered Hiyashi to sell the ball and split the money with this other idiot. Possession is NOT 9/10s of the law. Or to put it another way, that last tenth could still fuck you.

As for land, if an Indian tribe has an old deed for land you now live on that was given to them with no intention of it ever being honored, tough shit. Say hello to your new landlords. And if they tell to get off it, get off it.

As for the masks, they must be returned as a gesture of good will. Should the Elgin marbles be returned? Yes. Greece wants them. Should the swag looted from the Summer Palace in China and now housed in the British Museum be returned? Yes. China wants it. To my knowledge, Britain has never even apologized to China for the Opium Wars--one of the worst transgressions one nation has ever forced on another. And their refusal to return looted swag from the Chinese proves their colonialist attitudes haven't changed. If they've changed then prove it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Ed T
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 10:13 AM

Below are a few related articles, for those who wish to delve into the topic deeper.


On the auction

laws on stolen art (when proven to be stolen)


France Hands Over Stolen Nigerian Artifacts


Below item is a PDF file (https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/files/109-goodwin157upalrev6732008pdf)It is long, but interesting and somewhat related. What is interesting is the different statutes of limitations and the countries who have not signed on to related international laws.(titled: MAPPING THE LIMITS OF REPATRIABLE CULTURAL HERITAGE: A CASE STUDY OF STOLEN FLEMISH ART IN FRENCH MUSEUMS

LIMITS OF REPATRIABLE CULTURAL ITEMS


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 10:34 AM

Sorry, Futwick, but you don't know what you're talking about. I said "Saxon law." Way back, and even that was codified over time. Common law, the way people under stood ownership or community use.

Medieval Legal History and Anglo-Saxon Law should give you hours of reading fun. As distinct from The Commons (available to all). These are very old but well-understood through cultures for millennia. In the instance of items being sold where treaties don't exist, those holding the items will feel entitled to hold them because of the method of ownership (purchase) regardless of the nature of the objects.

Though not living with the tradition of ancient European law, there is still is a conflict between possession and the Commons - because the Hopi believe these belong to all of their people and no one person can speak for or sell these objects that are considered a living part of their religion.

The rest of the baggage you hauled into your post - that's all a straw man.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 12:14 PM

**Sorry, Futwick, but you don't know what you're talking about.**

Correction: I don't know what you're talking about. There's a difference.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 12:16 PM

The auction catalogue correctly called the articles katsinam, but these are commonly although incorrectly called "masks."

NAGPRA, the law passed by Congress in the United States, applies to items regardless of age. Moreover, the method of obtaining ownership is immaterial; possession is not 9/10 of the law with regard to these items.
The regulations have exclusions and provide for legal contest.

Going back to an earlier post by Sugarfoot Jack, if a prehistoric pot (etc.) is taken from Federal lands or Reserves, that is illegal and subject to proseccution. If the pot is taken from private lands, it may be kept or sold, unless the item is claimed as part of "cultural patrimony," funerary or ceremonial value. In this case, the object(s) may be subject to legal decision as to whether NAGPRA applies. There have been a number of court cases.

The sale of items held abroad is legal under the laws of the country concerned; U. S. regulations, of course, do not apply.

Another legal consideration in the U.S. is the sale of items with feathers or parts of protected animals; this could also apply unless it could be proven that the feathers, etc., are not of recent origin (I am fuzzy on these regulations; they can be found easily through google).


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 12:21 PM

Q, my point was that the French apparently don't consider NAGPRA to influence them - the "possession is 9/10ths of the law" that Futwick doesn't understand means that if they don't acknowledge U.S. laws and there isn't a treaty arrangement regarding sacred U.S. indigenous religious materials, then since they have it in their possession they feel entitled to keep it. Despite the bad press.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 12:59 PM

I found Furwick's comments correct as far as they went (U. S.).
He said nothing about international application except that the items should be returned "as a gesture of good will."

I agree with that. The Elgin marbles belong in Greece; they were looted. There are no treaty agreements, but "good will" between countries is important.


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Apr 13 - 07:24 PM

In addition to laws regarding federal land, New Mexico has a state law making it illegal to excavate, injure, destroy or remove any cultural resource from state game commission land.
A man has been charged for digging under a descanso (a memorial cross placed where someone was killed) looking for a treasure hidden somewhere in northern New Mexico by Santa Fean and artiact collector Forrest Fenn.

The treasure, said to contain gold coins and gems worth $2 million, has prompted a lot of invasive digging.
Fenn gave clues in a poem included in his book, "The Thrill of the Chase."


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Subject: RE: BS: Native artifacts
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Apr 13 - 10:23 AM

Megan asked:

It also begs the question. Where do you stop? should all Roman coins be returned to Italy, Viking goods found in burials or paintings returned to country of origin?

Megan, your hypothetical questions are woefully incomplete in terms of dealing with many of the instances discussed above and in the links, let alone the equally hypothetical creation and/or discovery sites, and possible different collection times.

For instance, "all Roman coins" says nothing about the actual provenance of a specific coin or set of coins. Many Roman coins are/were to be found in England, for instance. And some "Roman" coins were created elsewhere (like the Iberian peninsula or Gaul or the area we now call Britain or England) and never saw Italy. So whose law (if any) applies to a certain hoard of "Roman" coins?

And "Viking goods" may have come from sites in what are now Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Greenland, Iceland, or numerous sites as far away as the Middle East where the wide-roaming Vikings raided and/or traded. And which of those modern countries have laws claiming the ownership of those goods?

So the questions about "all" Roman coins or Viking goods have to be answered "No".

Dave Oesterreich


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