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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Assessment of Objects Requested for Repatriation by the Pueblo de Cochiti in the Collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Region: Southwest
Associated Cultures: Pueblo de Cochiti


Documentation of the objects potentially affiliated with the Pueblo de Cochiti, New Mexico, was initiated in response to an official request from Robert B. Pecos, Governor of the Pueblo de Cochiti, and Lieutenant Governor Dwight A. Mody for the identification and return of three Kachina (ka'tsina) Society masks that the Pueblo de Cochiti identified as sacred objects. Examination of the relevant museum records indicated that the NMNH housed a Deer Dance Mask and a Mask of the Rainmakers from Cochiti Pueblo, and a Guardian Mask from an unspecified pueblo Indian community on the Rio Grande River.

The evidence indicates that the objects were collected by Father NoŽl Dumarest sometime between 1894 and 1898 and date to the historic period.

Several lines of evidence support the cultural affiliation of the Deer Dance Mask and Mask of the Rainmakers to the Pueblo de Cochiti. These include museum accession and catalog information and the historic record of local Pueblo de Cochiti kachina mask forms and their usage. The evidence does not support a determination of cultural affiliation for the cultural object identified as a Guardian Mask. That is because museum records do not indicate a specific pueblo of origin where the mask was collected. Masks of this type were employed at Cochiti Pueblo, San Felipe Pueblo, and Santo Domingo Pueblo during kachina ceremonies.

Taken together, this information constitutes a preponderance of evidence in support of the conclusion that the Deer Dance Mask and Mask of the Rainmakers are culturally affiliated with the Pueblo de Cochiti. Therefore, it is recommended that these two objects in two catalog numbers be made available for repatriation to the Pueblo de Cochiti.

Repatriation Update
These two sacred objects were repatriated to the Pueblo de Cochiti on October 18, 2012. The cultural affiliation of the Guardian Mask was further evaluated in an Addendum to this report.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History