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Chicago museum returning 159 items to Navajo tribe

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) 9-07

A Chicago museum says it will turn over to the Navajo Nation nearly 160 artifacts used by Navajo medicine men more than 100 years ago.

The Field Museum of Natural History identified “cultural items” that must be returned under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The items are from two collections donated to the museum.

The Montzheimer collection, donated to the museum in 1895, includes feather bundles, plume sticks, a bundle of eagle quills, a gourd rattle, rawhide rattles, small bows, a bundle of fire sticks, a horn cup, small shells, a polished stone, quartz fragments, arrow points, a bone fragment, a tin box of blue pigment, a clay vessel, badger feet, a necklace of hawk talons, buckskin masks, a stick wrapped in yarn, a buckskin bag, a goatskin bag, a bag containing horn, 59 bags of medicine and implements made of flint, wood, buckskin, stone and bone.

The Hubbell collection, donated to the museum in 1910, contains painted buckskin masks, a hump back used by a dancer, a twig bow, rattles and a bundle of willow sticks with eagle feathers. The collector had acquired them from trader J.L. Hubbell of Ganado, Ariz.

The artifacts are healing items, known as jish, used by Navajo medicine men in the Nightway ceremony.

According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the items will be returned to the Navajo Nation unless another tribe claims them. The notification is required by law.

Information from: Albuquerque Journal, www.abqjournal.com
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