Washington tribe, feds seize artifacts from Tacoma antique dealer

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) – Officers from the Puyallup Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs seized scores of artifacts from an antique dealer in Tacoma on Thursday, suspecting the items were stolen.

Tribal police have a suspect, who was expected to turn himself in to tribal authorities, said Lt. Lt. Todd Wescott of the Puyallup tribal police.

“I have his number and I’ll be in contact with him tomorrow,” Wescott said on July 16. “The guy said he will come forth.”

The items had been scheduled to be auctioned by Sanford & Son Antiques in Tacoma. The dealer’s owner Alan Gorsuch said earlier this week that he believed he bought the baskets, photographs and other Native-American items from a representative of the owner, 88-year-old Ramona Hawthorne, who is the daughter of a Puyallup tribal leader from a century ago.

Gorsuch has been “very cooperative with the whole procedure,” said John Weymer, a spokesman for the tribe.

Scrutiny on the items in the auction ramped up after an article in the newspaper. Hawthorne’s neighbors began calling the police and putting up posters alerting people the items were stolen.

“I’m trying to get everyone in on this,” said neighbor Brenda Hall. “I’d like to stand up and say it’s a shame this is being sold. Mona has nobody. She has no one looking out for her.”

The items seized include a rare Coast Salish woven basket, tribal photographs and other items.

“The tribe is extremely pleased that the items have been recovered. The security of tribal elders is of the utmost importance to the tribal council,” Weymer said.


Information from: The News Tribune,

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AP-WS-07-17-09 2056EDT