This week, Albion College will return a religious relic to a Native American tribe.
The two-foot tall wooden statue belongs to the Zuni nation in New Mexico. The war god idol was donated to Albion’s collection 45 years ago. But only recently did the college realize the idol’s significance and the need to return it to the tribe.
The Zuni have spent decades trying to reclaim artifacts removed from their tribal lands.
“Most of them that have come into public collections are objects that were taken away from Zuni lands. They were taken from alters that are out in the open,” says Bille Wickre, an art history professor at Albion.
Wickre discovered the idol in the college’s collection while preparing to teach a class on Native American art.
Federal law requires institutions to return artifacts to Native American tribes.