fbpx
facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 

BROWNING, Mont. — On Oct. 3, an employee for the Museum of the Plains Indian on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Mont. pleaded guilty to stealing Native American artifacts from the museum, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana.

The museum is managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board. As a result, the crime is being investigated as “theft of government property” and the employee, 31-year-old Preston Jay Spotted Eagle, faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The theft was originally discovered in August 2021, when a museum curator noticed that a grizzly bear claw necklace was missing from the display that Spotted Eagle had recently been assigned to inventory. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was charged with investigating, and “a review of security system video ultimately led to Spotted Eagle,” according to the Department of Justice. The necklace, upon return, was significantly damaged, a museum employee noted in the report.

Further investigation and a renewed inventory from the museum identified additional missing items, including loose bear claws, moccasins, a war bonnet, and 26 golden eagle feathers.

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 
 

“The investigation further determined that Spotted Eagle removed artifacts, photographed them with his cell phone and tried on [a] historic clothing item, some of which were very old and delicate,” the Department of Justice wrote. “Spotted Eagle also rummaged through many sacred bundles.”

The government’s appraisal of the damaged and lost items amounts to more than $11,000.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case, with sentencing set for Feb. 8, 2023. Spotted Eagle was released pending further proceedings.

More Stories Like This

Here's What's Going On in Indian Country, June 21- June 27
Diné Skate Garden Project Celebrates National Go Skate Day
Indigenous Voices of the Americas Festival Returns to National Museum of the American Indian This Summer
Q&A: Indigenous Actor Joel Montgrand on Season Two of Hit Podcast 'Actors & Ancestors'
Chickasaw Writer Pens First Romantic Comedy 

Join us in observing 100 years of Native American citizenship. On June 2, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, granting Native Americans US citizenship, a pivotal moment in their quest for equality. This year marks its centennial, inspiring our special project, "Heritage Unbound: Native American Citizenship at 100," observing their journey with stories of resilience, struggle, and triumph. Your donations fuel initiatives like these, ensuring our coverage and projects honoring Native American heritage thrive. Your donations fuel initiatives like these, ensuring our coverage and projects honoring Native American heritage thrive.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].