ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Native American dance group drove to Albuquerque over the weekend to perform, but they left empty-handed after thieves took off with all of their turquoise jewelry, moccasins, feathers, and more. Not only are these items important to the dancers who need them to perform, but they also have sentimental and spiritual value after being passed down for generations.
A weekend full of prayer, song, and dance ended in heartbreak for the Acoma Buffalo Dance Group. “Everything means a lot to us, and we just want it back so bad,” lead dancer 12-year-old Mercedez Martinez said.
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This comes after a black tote full of $15-$20,000 worth of their dance items was stolen sometime Sunday evening. The tote was full of jewelry, dresses, moccasins, and more. Martinez said she is devastated. “Our hand feathers, those meant a lot to me and the necklaces,” Martinez said. “They were passed down to [my grandmother]. When she goes, they will be passed down to me. I don’t know if I am ever going to use them again. I don’t know if they are going to get pawned.”
Mercedez’s grandmother, Wynema Garcia, said the group is made up of several children, all family, from the Acoma Pueblo and Hopi Tribe. They perform regularly in Albuquerque. After their performance Sunday at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, they headed back to their hotel, the Hampton Inn by the airport. Garcia said the tote was stolen from their truck while parked at the hotel. “There is a lot of stuff in there we need,” Garcia said. “It is not just for our group, but also for our traditional doings.”
Garcia said they have another performance next week, but she said they won’t be able to continue to dance if they can’t get their items back. “Whoever has that tote, just please give it back,” Martinez said. “It really means the world to us.”
The group reported the theft to the police. APD said while the report is still being processed, investigators will look for any available evidence like surveillance that may have caught what happened on camera. APD also said hotels are targets for thieves because they know people have valuable items. APD said anyone staying at a hotel should bring all important belongings inside.