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Amnesty for Looters Ends Wednesday

Amnesty for Looters Ends Wednesday

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Pot hunters in the Four Corners states have until Wednesday to turn in their loot.

That's when the 90-day artifact amnesty program set up by the U.S. attorneys in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona comes to an end.

The program allowed the return, with no penalty and no questions asked, of anything of cultural, historical or traditional importance to Indian tribes that was taken illegally from the region.

Six sets of human remains, pottery shards and grinding stones were turned in in Utah.

Although the no-questions-asked policy was followed, some of those who have come forward offered on their own that they had discovered the items after a relative's death, said John Fryar, a special agent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"People have said, 'My husband died and I didn't know he had them,' " said Fryar, who is based in New Mexico.

Fryar said the program has been a success, both for the return of objects and the education received by the public.

"We've been able to answer questions about what's legal and what's not," he said.

Forrest Cuch, executive director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, said some of the returned items were obtained before laws banning their possession went into effect.

"The owners had passed on and their relatives wanted (the items) to come back to the public," Cuch said.

He is looking into sending some objects to tribal museums and cultural centers. In addition, his agency, which is a deposit site for the remains, will work through its Native American Remains Review Committee and tribes to determine where to return bones for proper burial.

Returns in other states include:

--Arizona: Several whole pots, several sets of human remains and a Hopi mask that had been missing for 45 years.

--New Mexico: Pots, bowls, pottery canteens, stone artifacts, pottery shards and some human remains. Many of the bowls and pots are still whole.

--Colorado: Some human remains, whole pots, mat fragments and a variety of smaller artifacts. A Denver man brought in a skull from Wyoming and asked that it be returned to the appropriate tribe, Fryar said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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