insider theft: Former Yakama Nation curator, daughter sentenced for stealing museum artifacts

A federal judge Thursday sentenced a former Yakama Nation Museum curator and her daughter to nine and six months, respectively, in prison for stealing artifacts from the museum.

Marilyn Skahan-Malatare, 58, was given a few days to get her things in order before reporting to federal prison while her 30-year-old daughter, Colette Julia Malatare, was immediately taken into custody from U.S. District Court in Yakima, said U.S. Assistant Attorney Tom Hanlon.

The pair will also pay $1,164 in restitution.

The pair were indicted in January on 36 counts of embezzling and stealing roughly $160,000 worth of artifacts over a six-month period that ended in April 2007. But in a March plea agreement, they each pleaded guilty to one count of theft and embezzlement.
Included in the roughly 70 known artifacts taken were men’s and women’s beaded bags, men’s vests, a cradle cover and a rifle scabbard. All of the items known to have been taken were recovered at the curator’s home and at pawn shops. But the total number of missing items is unclear because the museum lacked a formal inventory system. Most of the items were from the Nipo Strongheart collection. Strongheart was a 1920s movie actor and adopted member of the Yakama Nation. He gave his collection, which was valued at $200,000 at the time of his death in 1966, to the tribe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.