Pueblo of San Ildefonso v. Ridlon

103 F.3d 936 (1996)

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Pueblo of San Ildefonso v. Ridlon

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
103 F.3d 936 (1996)

  • Written by Heather Whittemore, JD

Facts

In 1978 Daniel Ridlon (defendant) found a piece of pottery associated with the Pueblo of San Ildefonso (the pueblo) (plaintiff), a federally recognized Indian tribe, on land owned by Los Alamos County, New Mexico. Ridlon gave the pottery to the Bradbury Museum (the museum) (defendant). In 1988 Ridlon filed a lawsuit against the museum seeking return of the pottery. While the lawsuit was ongoing, Congress enacted the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). NAGPRA had two schemes: § 3002 related to claims of ownership of Native American cultural items discovered on federal lands after the statute was enacted in 1990 (the ownership scheme), and §§ 3004 and 3005 allowed Native American tribes and descendants to seek repatriation of Native American remains and cultural items from museums and federal agencies (the repatriation scheme). The pueblo filed a lawsuit against Ridlon and the museum in federal district court, seeking the return of the pottery under NAGPRA’s repatriation scheme. The district court dismissed the lawsuit, holding that it did not have jurisdiction over the lawsuit because the pottery was discovered before 1990. In doing so, the district court relied on NAGPRA’s ownership scheme. The pueblo appealed, arguing that NAGPRA’s repatriation scheme applied to the pottery regardless of when or where it was discovered.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Godbold, J.)

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