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Mich. college to return artifact to tribe

Associated Press

Albion – A Michigan college will return a Native American war god idol to a southwestern U.S. Native American tribe.

Art history professor Bille Wickre holds the Ahayuda or war god, a Zuni Nation wooden idol carving at Albion College's Bobbit Visual Arts Center, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Albion.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that Albion College will return the Ahayuda idol to the Zuni tribe on Thursday.

School officials say the idol is about 2 feet long and dates back to the 19th century. Ahayuda are traditionally carved from Cottonwood trees that have been struck by lightning.

Bille Wickre is a professor of art history at the college. She says the Ahayuda is a symbol of peace and protection.

Ahayuda or war god, a Zuni Nation wooden idol carving is photographed at Albion College's Bobbit Visual Arts Center, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Albion. The piece was donated to the college in 1973, but it wasn't until 2015 when the origins of the piece were discovered and the Zuni Nation contacted. Three members of the Zuni Nation will repatriate the piece on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 at the college.

Wickre says the school received the idol in 1973, though there are no records of how the original donor acquired the piece. The repatriation process began after Wickre discovered the idol in storage in 2015 and a scholar identified the artifact.