Tonya Papanikolas ReportingA campaign aimed at recovering lost and stolen Native American artifacts has been deemed successful. In four western states, the government offered amnesty to people who returned items they had illegally, without any repercussions. That deal ended yesterday.
The Utah Division of Indian Affairs working with the government recovered quite a few items here in Utah. They were mostly interested in sacred and ceremonial items, along with human remains.
They didn't receive any sacred items, but they did receive a lot of ancient cultural artifacts. Many of these didn't even have to be turned in, but people wanted to cooperate. So they brought in old corn grinding stones, like one that's in very good shape and another that's so old you can see the marks where the stones sat.
Most of the items are more than 1,000 years old. They also received pieces of pottery that can show designs, different colors of clay and sometimes even fossils. One item is believed to be an ancient sandal made from cords of a yucca plant.
Among the items, people also brought in two boxes of human remains, plus some assorted bones. These items were illegal and the ones the state was most interested in.
Forrest S. Cuch , Utah Division of Indian Affairs: "Indian people feel strongly that the remains of their ancestors should not be disturbed. And if they are, they need to be returned to the earth as soon as possible, along with the appropriate ceremony."
Some Native Americans believe spirits are disturbed when human remains are disturbed. Some believe that can bring mysterious problems and sickness to those who disturbed the bones. When the bones are returned to the earth, traditional Indians also believe it is paying respect to their ancestors and giving back and balancing the energy of the earth.
Mr. Cuch said he hoped some of these items would be used as an educational tool. The human remains will be returned to the appropriate Indian tribes.