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A cache of American Indian artifacts seized during raids on a Custer-themed museum in southeast Montana includes items allegedly stolen from members of the Crow Tribe.

The allegation was detailed in court documents filed by the government in part to explain why it still has the artifacts three years after federal agents dropped their criminal probe of the Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, Montana.

Federal officials investigated museum director Christopher Kortlander for four years for alleged artifact fraud. No charges were filed and the case was dropped in 2009.

But the fight over 22 artifacts seized in raids on Kortlander’s museum and businesses in 2005 and 2008 grinds on.

The government contends the artifacts are illegal “contraband” that cannot be returned. They include war bonnets, medicine bundles and other items that contain feathers from protected eagles and other migratory birds. Read more.

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