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Last week, federal investigators in Fairfield, Maine, seized items for sale at an antique auction house to determine whether or not the items —including one reported to be an "Apache scalp" — are indeed authentic.
 
The FBI obtained a search warrant in May for Poulin's Antiques & Auctions Inc. after the agency received a tip from outside of Maine that a Native American item had been listed for sale on the business' website, according to Bangor Daily News.
 
Federal law prohibits the sale of Native American human remains—punishable by fine and imprisonment—but no charges have been filed in the case, Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey said in a statement shared with Native News Online.
 
On Nov. 9, Casey wrote that the search warrant was executed with the cooperation of representatives of the auctioneer. Federal officials seized "evidence, including an item reported to be an 'Apache scalp.'" Casey said.
 
"There is a process underway to determine whether the item is human, whether it is Native American, and whether, if Native American, the remains are that of a person who was a member of a particular tribe," Casey wrote.
 
If investigators determine that the remains belong to a Native American ancestor, the department will consult with the BIA and tribal leaders to determine tribal affiliation and work to repatriate the ancestor back home.
 
Since the investigation is ongoing, no further details are available, a spokesperson from the U.S. The Attorney's Office for the District of Maine told Native News Online.
 
The Association on American Indian Affairs, the oldest non-profit in Indian Country—provides public information on upcoming domestic and international auctions that may contain sensitive Indigenous cultural heritage items. It advises the public to immediately contact BIA Special Agent Franklin Chavez ([email protected] / 505-228-8053) with any information that may support a claim of theft or looting.
 
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