Day: December 16, 2014

Black Mesa mines: Native Americans demand return of their ancestors’ bones

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Black Mesa mines: Native Americans demand return of their ancestors’ bones

Navajo and Hopi Nations are fighting for the protection of Arizona burial grounds as one of the world’s largest coal companies seeks extension of its mining permit

The Peabody mine on Black Mesa with reclaimed areas in the background, looking north-west.
 The Peabody mine on Black Mesa. The company is seeking a lifetime mining permit for the lands it leases from Native American tribes. Photograph: Sam A Minkler

In 1967 the Peabody coal company came to the Navajo and Hopi reservations in northern Arizona and Utah to excavate a strip mine – but the land it leased from the tribes was on an ancient tribal burial ground. So, as required by law, it hired archeologists and for the next 17 years a dig known as the Black Mesa archeological project – the largest in North American history – unearthed more than one million artefacts, including the remains of 200 Native Americans.

Now the bones and artefacts are at the centre of a debate between tribes people who say ancestral remains and archeological ruins have been desecrated, and a coal company and government officials who are planning a new dig. Read More

Navajos buy back artifacts at disputed auction

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MONDAY, DEC 15, 2014 11:15 AM PST
Navajos buy back artifacts at disputed auction
THOMAS ADAMSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Navajos buy back artifacts at disputed auction
French lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber defending Native Americans speaks to the media at the Drouot’s auction house during the contested auction of Native American items in Paris, Monday Dec. 15, 2014. Navajo officials have spent several hundred thousand euros to buy back seven tribal masks put up for sale at a disputed auction despite the U.S. Embassy in Paris asking Drouot to suspend the sale to allow Navajo and Hopi representatives to determine where they came from. (AP Photo/Francois Mori )(Credit: AP)
PARIS (AP) — The Native American Navajo tribe won its bid Monday to buy back seven sacred masks at a contested auction of tribal artifacts in Paris that netted over a million dollars.

The objects for sale at the Drouot auction house included religious masks, colored in pigment, that are believed to have been used in Navajo wintertime healing ceremonies.

The sale went ahead despite efforts to halt it by the U.S. government and Senator John McCain of Arizona.

The sale — which totaled 929,000 euros ($1.12 million) — also included dozens of Hopi Kachina dolls and several striking Pueblo masks embellished with horse hair, bone and feathers, thought to be from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Read More