Portion of Tomanowos auctioned off in New York City
A slice of Tomanowos - the Willamette meteorite that is a sacred object to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde - was auctioned off for $2,000 on Sunday, Oct. 14, in New York City by meteorite collector Darryl Pitt.
Pitt auctioned off pieces of his collection known as the Macovich Collection of Meteorites that included two pieces of Tomanowos - a smaller piece and a 28-pound slice of Tomanowos. The larger piece, which also was up for sale, did not find a buyer.
A similar auction in 2007 reignited Tribal ire regarding trafficking in pieces from the sacred meteorite and produced no takers.
Pitt obtained his pieces of Tomanowos in 1998 when he traded New York City's American Museum of Natural History a half-ounce piece of a meteorite from Mars. The trade occurred before the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde staked a claim to Tomanowos in November 1999, citing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.
Tomanowos fell from the sky more than 10,000 years ago and eventually settled in what is now West Linn. Clackamas Tribal peoples believed the meteorite created a union between the sky, earth and water when it rested in the ground and collected rainwater in its crevices and basins.
In 1906, a New York philanthropist purchased Tomanowos for $20,600, shipped it to New York City and donated it to the American Museum of Natural History, which is where is had resided ever since.
In 2000, the Tribe and museum reached an accord that keeps Tomanowos in New York City and allows annual ceremonial access to Grand Ronde Tribal members, as well as acknowledges the meteorite's religious importance to the Tribe.
Once the museum was notified of Tomanowos' sacred importance to the Grand Ronde Tribe, it stopped trading pieces of it for other space collectibles.