The Robust International Antiquities Trade: the Law, Smugglers, thieves, Prestigious Auctions, ISIS, Animals. And some Renowned Museums too.

Elgin Marbles | Detail

USA |

[At the Kansas City, Missouri, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW in August 2013, a woman brought in what was probably a seed pot that was made by the Anasazi, a Native American pueblo people who lived near present-day Four Corners — the region where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona come together. The pot was most likely made between 1000 and 1300 A.D. — clearly making it an important piece historically — and according to expert Anthony Slayter-Ralph was worth between $3,000 and $4,000 in the retail market.

But this pot, like many other Native American objects, raised an important question often asked by owners and collectors of Native American objects: What should be done with prehistoric and other Indian objects that you may possess, and when is it okay to buy or sell them?] Indian Artifacts: Understanding the Law | PBS

Also, An Exclusive Look at the Greatest Haul of Native American Artifacts, Ever | The Smithsonian Magazine

Also, ICE Cultural Heritage Repatriations 

Europe |

[A few years ago, Christos Tsirogiannis was looking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online collection when he had a flash of recognition. While studying an ancient Greek krater—a clay vase used for mixing wine—something “suddenly clicked,” he says. The vase was decorated with a painting of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. “I knew that I had seen the subject on that krater before,” he says.

A forensic archaeologist affiliated with the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, Tsirogiannis has access to restricted databases containing tens of thousands of photographs and documents seized during raids. Searching through the online archives, he found five photos of the Met’s Greek krater among items confiscated from Giacomo Medici, an Italian antiquities dealer convicted in 2005 of receiving stolen goods and conspiracy to traffic looted antiquities.

So why was an object that may have been dug up and sold by looters on display at a famous American museum, and how did it get there?] Museum Goers Beware: That Ancient Artifact May Be Stolen | National Geographic

Middle East and ISIS |

[What isis hates, it destroys, and ancient artifacts are no exception. To erase pre-Islamic history, it has employed sledgehammers and drills at a museum in Mosul, explosives at Palmyra, and all of these weapons, plus jackhammers, power saws, and bulldozers, at Nimrud. In one video, a fighter explains that isismust smash “these statues and idols, these artifacts,” because the Prophet Muhammad destroyed such things after conquering Mecca, nearly fourteen hundred years ago. “They became worthless to us even if they are worth billions of dollars,” he adds. So, at the Met, many were puzzled when Andrew Keller, a soft-spoken senior official at the State Department, unveiled newly declassified documents proving that isis maintains a marginally profitable “antiquities division.”] The Real Value of the ISIS Antiquities Trade | The New Yorker

Efforts |

[A Memorandum of Understanding was inked by the United States and the People’s Republic of China on January 14, 2009. The five-year agreement outlines a number of steps designed to stem the flow of illicitly excavated or exported artifacts from China to the U.S. (click here for legal background).] Archaeological Institute of America

U.S., Egypt Sign Agreement to Thwart Trade in Illegal Antiquities | National Geographic

Also…

Latin America |

[Mexico has had poor results in recuperating stolen cultural antiquities. There are deficiencies in both the registration of these thefts and a lack of coordination among the authorities to preserve the items.

The trafficking of items of cultural heritage is an activity that cuts across countries, and connects antique dealers and politicians in Buenos Aires to narcos in Guatemala, to collectors in Mexico, to diplomats in Peru and Costa Rica. This special, involving five journalistic teams, reveals the illicit international market for objects stolen from temples, public museums, and private collections. An initiative of OjoPúblico, this was produced by an alliance of news teams including La Nación (Costa Rica), Plaza Pública (Guatemala), Animal Político (México) and Chequeado (Argentina).] Only a Fraction of Mexico’s Stolen Cultural Antiquities Are Recovered | Insight Crime

Also… Illicit Cultural Property from Latin America: Looting, Trafficking, and Sale | SocArXivs

India |

[Indian Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma’s recent admission in parliament that eight cases of antiquities theft were reported from State-protected monuments and museums across three states over the last year, has yet again brought to the fore the fraught issue of pilferage and smuggling of art treasures from Indian shores.

According to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based advocacy group, illegal trade in paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal enterprises, estimated at $6 billion a year. And India, with its redoubtable cultural heritage, bureaucratic apathy, and tardy implementation of antiquities protection laws, offers pilferers fertile ground to plunder the past and spirit away booty worth billions for sale in the international bazaar.] Smuggling India’s Antiquities | The Diplomat

 

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Popol Vuh

[Popol VuhMaya document, an invaluable source of knowledge of ancient Mayan mythology and culture. Written in K’iche’ (a Mayan language) by a Mayan author or authors between 1554 and 1558, it uses the Latin alphabet with Spanish orthography. It chronicles the creation of humankind, the actions of the gods, the origin and history of the K’iche’ people, and the chronology of their kings down to 1550.

The original book was discovered at the beginning of the 18th century by Francisco Ximénez (Jiménez), parish priest of Chichicastenango in highland Guatemala. He both copied the original K’iche’ text (now lost) and translated it into Spanish. His work is now in the Newberry Library, Chicago.

In 2009 archaeologist Richard Hansen discovered two 8-metre- (26-foot-) long panels carved in stucco from the pre-Classic Mayan site of El Mirador, Guatemala, that depict aspects of the Popol Vuh. The panels—which date to about 300 BCE, some 500 years before the Classic-period fluorescence of Mayan culture—attested to the antiquity of the Popol Vuh. In explaining how the Mayan gods created the world, the Popol Vuh features the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who were transformed into, respectively, the Sun and the Moon. One of the panels depicts the Hero Twins beneath a bird deity; the other panel features a Mayan maize (corn) god surrounded by a serpent. The panels thus authenticated the earliest written version of the Mayan origin story, transcribed by Ximénez. (Source: BRITANNICA)

Most copies were burnt by the Spanish who wanted to eradicate Mayan culture—the only writing culture that developed independently from Europe and Asia. To promote their own culture and religion, Spanish missionaries taught Mayan scribes the Latin alphabet. Secretly, those scribes used the Latin alphabet to preserve the Popol Vuh, hiding the transliterated book until it could emerge unharmed and find new readers hundreds of years later.]

Father Ximénez’s manuscript contains the oldest known text of Popol Vuh. It is mostly written in parallel K’iche’ and Spanish as in the front and rear of the first folio pictured here | The original uploader was AmericanGringo at English Wikipedia – Originally from Ohio State Univ (cropped, straightened, grayscaled)

Couldn’t Help but Judge by Comparison

“Over six years, they led the examination of the Indian residential school system, combing through myriad documents and witnessing the courage of survivors who shared their stories. Their final report invites all Canadians to confront the inequities of the past, and calls on governments and individuals alike to move forward, with greater understanding, towards reconciliation.”

Actor Tom Jackson, a past recipient of the Order of Canada, brought Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, to tears after the formal ceremony with a moving call to action to improve the standing of the country’s Indigenous people.

Governor General apologizes for saying Indigenous people were immigrants

A Humble Celebration of Immense Symbolic Power in Indian Country

Banana bread, hot coffee, and later on mutton stew with frybread for all, that bone chilly Saturday. And a heart felt praise to President Barack Obama. It was about the first time in American history first nations were acknowledged, ratified, and officially included in the management of federal lands. And it was the beginning of a ceremony of healing long overdue.

It barely made the news.

On Saturday 7, 2017 people celebrated the designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument, at the Navajo Nation Monument Valley Welcome Center at the Arizona-Utah borders. About 400 people gathered, embraced the news, cheered, and reflected upon what it took to bring that victory, what it means, and what is yet to come.

Navajo Nation President, Mr. Russell Begaye, was there, along with Vice President Jonathan Nez, Alfred Lomaquahu, Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, former Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk (the first person contacted by the White House to nreak the news about the designation back in December), Shaun Chapoose, Chairman of the Ute Tribe of Uinta Ouray Reservation, Eric Descheenie, Representative-elect for the Arizona House of Representatives and former Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents five Utah Navajo districts.

“Bears Ears is our place of healing,” observed Eric Descheenie.“The opposition cannot compromise our ability to heal. It is absolutely critical that we develop a space for high-level intellectual conversation where we can talk about who we are and what it means to be human. Bears Ears Commission has created such a space.

The narrative has to shift. Please recognize that indigenous people carry a different body of knowledge. Let’s embrace that difference, support one another, and champion the new narrative.”
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The Prosperity Gospel | Mega-Churches in America

(comments from AlterNet)

On Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver took on the fraudulent behind-the-scenes (and occasionally, not so behind-the-scenes) practices of America’s mega-televangelist ministries — specifically, those that have exploited people’s faith for monetary gain with the promise that “donations will result in wealth coming back to you.” It’s called “The Prosperity Gospel,” and is built on the idea that every donation a congregant gives its pastor is a “seed” that will one day be harvested. “Wealth is a sign of God’s favor,” after all.

After learning of these shady practices embedded in mega-ministry culture, Oliver resolved to embark on a thought experiment: Why not file some paperwork and establish a church of his own (“a disturbingly easy process,” Oliver said), call it “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” and then ask congregants to meditate on the fraudulence of megachurches?

Bless me Father, for I have Sinned

[St. Louis University has removed a statue of a Roman Catholic priest and two American Indians that was described in the campus newspaper as a depiction of “colonialism, imperialism, racism and … Christian and white supremacy.”

The statue, “Where the Rivers Meet,” shows Pierre-Jean De Smet, a cross held high above his head, putting a hand on a Native American who stands below him. A second Native is shown kneeling.

“This message to American Indians is simple: ‘You do not belong here if you do not submit to our culture and our religion,'”wrote Ryan McKinley in The University News. McKinley stressed that SLU, a private Catholic University, was “likely unintentionally” committing the racial slight.

The statue will now be displayed in the University’s art museum. The usual debate over “political correctness” has ensued, particularly in thecomments section at the conservative-leaning Washington Times. Some pro-statue commenters feel the move ignores the historical fact that, within the dark context of colonialism, De Smet was unquestionably one of the good guys.

The question is whether the statue, without that context, comes across as a tribute to one of the good guys or an overall endorsement of imposing European culture on Indigenous people.]

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/05/28/st-louis-university-removes-controversial-statue-priest-and-natives-160526

STATUE

On Sacred Ground

Indigenous communities around the world resist threats to their sacred places—the original protected lands—in a growing movement to defend human rights and restore the environment. In this four-part documentary series, native people share ecological wisdom and spiritual reverence while battling a utilitarian view of land in the form of government megaprojects, consumer culture, and resource extraction as well as competing religions and climate change.