FBI investigates Maine auction house for ‘Apache Scalp’

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 genuine.

The FBI obtained a search warrant in May for Poulin’s Antiques & Auctions Inc. after the agency received a tip from outside Maine that a Native American item had been listed for sale on the company’s website, according to Bangor Daily News.


Federal law prohibits the sale of Native American human remains — punishable by a fine and jail time — but no charges have been laid in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey said in a statement. shared with Native News Online.

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On November 9, Casey wrote that the search warrant had been executed with the cooperation of representatives of the auctioneer. Federal officials seized “evidence including one item reported to be an ‘Apache scalp,'” Casey said.

“A process is underway to determine if the object is human, if it is a Native American and if, if it is a Native American, the remains are those 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 home.

As the investigation is ongoing, no further details are available, a spokesperson for the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Maine told Native News Online.

The Association on American Indian Affairs, the oldest nonprofit organization in Indian Country, provides public information on upcoming national and international auctions that may contain sensitive elements of indigenous cultural heritage. He 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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