FR Doc E9-29299[Federal Register: December 9, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 235)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
National Park Service
Notice of Intent to Repatriate Cultural Items: Denver Museum of
Nature & Science, Denver, CO
AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.
This notice is published as part of the National Park Service's
administrative responsibilities under NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C. 3003 (d)(3).
The determinations in this notice are the sole responsibility of the
museum, institution, or Federal agency that has control of the cultural
items. The National Park Service is not responsible for the
determinations in this notice.
The five cultural items are Navajo jish, represented by three
medicine bundles (AC.11423A-J; AC.11424A-R; AC.11425A-L), one stone
prayer club (AC.4918), and one fetish and its wrapping (AC.194A-B).
The first medicine bundle (AC.11423A-J) dates between about 1880
and 1920, and consists of one outer wrapping blanket (AC.11423A), two
plain rattles (AC.11423B), three lightning rattles (AC.11423C), three
eagle feather brushes (AC.11423D), eight medicine bows and arrows
(AC.11423E), six small medicine bags (AC.11423F), and four horned hats
The second medicine bundle (AC.11424A-R) dates to an unknown
period, and consists of one outer wrapping blanket (AC.11424A), four
bullroarers (AC.11424B), three lightning rattles (AC.11424C), two small
plain rattles (AC.11424D), four sacks of medicine (AC.11424E), one
gourd rattle (AC.11424F), four prayer sticks and hide (AC.11424G), two
small medicine bags (AC.11424H), one blue stone horse fetish
(AC.11424I), one bag of minerals and grease (AC.11424J), four fetish
amulets (AC.11424K), three painted shell pots (AC.11424L), eight
medicine stones (AC.11424M), one turtle shell (AC.11424N), four claw
necklaces (AC.11424O), two pairs of claw wristlets (AC.11424P-Q), and
one pottery painted pot (AC.11424R).
The third medicine bundle (AC.11425A-L) dates between about 1880
and 1920, and consists of one outer wrapping blanket (AC.11425A); eight
streamer racks made of wood,
metal, and cloth (AC.11425B); two streamers made of wood, metal, and
cloth (AC.11425C); two eagle feather brushes (AC.11425D); one set of
fire sticks (AC.11425E); two hide bags (AC.11425F); nine small medicine
bags (AC.11425G); one corn meal basket tray (AC.11425H); two feather
prayer sticks (AC.11425I); one small hide (AC.11425J); one medicine bow
and arrow (AC.11425K); and one lynx hide (AC.11425L).
The three medicine bundles were originally sold by a Navajo
medicine man named Mike Salt or Ushie, from Sawmill, AZ. He sold them
to an art dealer named Don Pablo of Scottsdale, AZ, who in turn sold
the objects to Mr. Charles M. Eberhart of the Western Trading Post,
located in Denver, CO. Mr. and Mrs. Eberhart donated the bundles to the
museum in 1974.
The stone prayer club (AC.4918) dates to an unknown period. It is
made from black slate and is approximately 11 x 3 inches in size. The
club was originally accessioned as "Alaskan," but then later
changed to "probably Navajo." This change was based on a similar
object on display at the Navajo Museum of Ceremonial Arts in Santa Fe,
NM, which had a label reading "Ceremonial knife (slate) held by
medicine man or patient during certain acts of various ceremonies and
pressed against certain parts of the patient's body to expel evil."
Furthermore, in 1978, two Navajo consultants visited the Denver Museum
of Nature & Science, and explained that this item was "used
ceremonially in prayer to ward off evil." In 1959, the stone prayer
club was purchased by Francis V. and Mary W.A. Crane at Southwest
Indian Arts & Crafts, Santa Fe, NM. The Cranes later donated the club
to the museum in 1983.
The fetish and wrapping (AC.194A-B) date to an unknown period. It
is a carved stone with turquoise, white stone and black stone inlay;
shell pieces; feathers; yarn; hide (AC.194A); and one calico cloth
(AC.194B). These objects were accessioned as a "Navajo" "talking
prayerstick." In 1954, the fetish and wrapping were purchased by
Francis V. and Mary W.A. Crane at Kohlberg's Antiques and Indian Arts,
Denver, CO. The Cranes later donated the fetish and wrapping to the
museum in 1972.
During consultation, representatives of the Navajo Nation provided
detailed documentation to demonstrate Navajo rights of possession, and
that the items are both objects of cultural patrimony and sacred
objects. In particular, the tribe detailed that these Navajo jish are
used in the Na'at'oyéé (The Male Shooting Way ceremony)
and the Hochoiji (The Evil Way ceremony), which are still widely
practiced by members of the present-day Navajo tribe. The Navajo people
believe that jish are alive and must be treated with respect. The
primary purpose of the jish is to cure people of diseases, mental and
physical illness, and to restore beauty and harmony. Furthermore, the
Navajo Nation asserts that no single individual can truly own any jish.
These sacred objects are made by knowledgeable Navajo people and
Hataaliis (Medicine persons) from animals and plants that unselfishly
contributed themselves for the benefit of the Navajo people and the
universe. In order to possess sacred jish, one must have the proper
ceremonial knowledge with which to care and utilize them. The right to
control jish is outlined by traditional laws, which vests this
responsibility in Hataaliis. The Hataaliis only care, utilize, and
bequeath jish for the Navajo people. Hataalii do not have the right to
sell jish, because they do not own them, they are only caretakers on
behalf of the Navajo people.
The extant anthropological literature substantiates these claims.
Medicine bags are made during ceremonies out of "sacred" materials,
stored in special places, used only in prescribed ritual contexts, and
hold myriad articles to which supernatural properties are attributed.
Anthropologists have documented, in particular, the use of jish in the
Male Shooting Way and Evil Way ceremonies, and the ways in which the
medicine objects are linked to traditional myths. Anthropologists have
further documented that medicine bundles are sacred items, fundamental
to the practice of traditional Navajo religion. Jish, used for
ceremonial healing, are unique from Western notions of medicine in part
because of the special sacred properties believed to be imbued in the
bundles. Further, unlike Western medical objects, Navajos consider the
jish to be animate and, therefore, are subject to culturally-defined
rules for handling. Therefore, museum officials reasonably believe that
the jish is a sacred object.
While the anthropological literature seems to be unanimous that
jish are sacred objects, some scholars have suggested that they are
alienable possessions. However, other scholars have documented that
some Navajos consider certain bundles to be "indestructible property"
that are "ultimately owned by a definable social group." Other
researchers emphasize that the medicine ceremonies belong to all
Navajos and the bundles are cared for by entire clans. Additionally,
some of the earliest documented efforts to collect jish (by Washington
Matthews in 1888 and Stewart Culin in 1903), demonstrate that Navajos
traditionally view jish as inalienable. Moreover, the courts have
established that jish should be considered objects of cultural
patrimony. In United States v. Corrow, 119 F.3d 796 (10th Cir. 1997),
cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1133 (1998), the court held that jish fall
within NAGPRA's definition of object of cultural patrimony. During
consultation, the Navajo Nation insisted that the jish is a kind of
clan property. When a holder of the jish dies and does not have a son
or student to pass them on to, the jish reverts back to the clan.
Therefore, museum officials reasonably believe that the jish is also an
object of cultural patrimony.
Officials of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science have determined
that, pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001 (3)(C), the five cultural items are
specific ceremonial objects needed by traditional Native American
religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American
religions by their present-day adherents. Officials of the Denver
Museum of Nature & Science have also determined that, pursuant to 25
U.S.C. 3001 (3)(D), the five cultural items have ongoing historical,
traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American
group or culture itself, rather than property owned by an individual.
Lastly, officials of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science have
determined that, pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001 (2), there is a
relationship of shared group identity that can be reasonably traced
between the sacred objects/objects of cultural patrimony and the Navajo
Nation of Arizona, New Mexico & Utah.
Representatives of any other Indian tribe that believes itself to
be culturally affiliated with the sacred objects/objects of cultural
patrimony should contact Dr. Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Curator of
Anthropology, NAGPRA Officer, Department of Anthropology, Denver Museum
of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, Denver, CO 80205,
telephone (303) 370-6378, before January 8, 2010. Repatriation of the
sacred objects/objects of cultural patrimony to the Navajo Nation of
Arizona, New Mexico & Utah may proceed after that date if no additional
claimants come forward.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is responsible for notifying
the Navajo Nation of Arizona, New Mexico & Utah that this notice has
Dated: November 9, 2009.
Acting Manager, National NAGPRA Program.
[FR Doc. E9-29299 Filed 12-9-09; 8:45 am]
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