I’ve wrote about this before, but it’s a subject that needs to be brough up again, and that’s the issue of contamination. This is something every tribe has to worry about when having an item returned. Museums must also worry about it, since they are the ones storing the items until transfer of control to a tribe. The chemicals are just nasty, like arsenic, mercury, lead and candieum. All of these will make you very sick, if exposed to the right amount. Most of these were applied to organic materials such as leather, feathers and articles made from plants. The items are still sacred, but it seems the items are sick when chemicals are present. How does one help a sick object heal?
So when requesting information about objects, part of the information requested is to see if contamination is an issue. This is something I never thought about when I first started my job, but after visiting a few museums and seeing items all wrapped in plastic, it became apparent just because an item comes back, it’s not safe to handle. And testing is damn expensive. All of this has to be taken into account before a claim is seriously considered.