The Pottery Curse

Written by on October 11, 2012 in Haunted Southwest - Comments Off on The Pottery Curse

The Native American tribes of the Southwest create some of the most beautiful pottery in the world. Throughout history, until recently, some of the finest samples were buried with the dead. The pots were ceremonially “killed” by putting a hole in the bottom. It is believed that the pots were broken so that the soul of the deceased could be released to the spirit world.
Many Southwestern tribes, especially the Apache and Navajo, fear the ghosts of the deceased. They believe the ghosts resent the living and can bring extremely bad luck. The Apache quickly bury their dead and burn the deceased’s home and belongings, while the mourning family had to undergo many purification rituals and move to a new place to escape the ghost. The Navajo also bury their dead quickly and any Navajo exposed to a corpse must undergo and long and costly ritual of purification.

It is therefore considered extremely bad luck to disturb a Native American burial site and that includes the grave goods buried there. Yet many visitors to Native American sites do it anyway, often carrying way lovely pottery and other artifacts. Strangely enough, many of the pieces find their way home. Park rangers throughout the Southwest (like Wupatki, the Grand Canyon, Homolovi and other sites) frequently received letters and pieces of pottery or other artifacts back in the mail. The letters nearly always say that the thief has been haunted or has experienced extreme bad luck, plagues and other illnesses, since picking up the stolen artifacts. They ask the rangers to return the goods to the grave sites in hopes of lifting the curse.

Do these grave goods still carry with them the angry spirits of deceased Native Americans? We don’t recommend finding out. U.S. and state laws call for fines of $250 to $150,000 and five years in prison for anyone caught stealing a piece of pottery or defacing rock art. Still, it might be easier hiding from the law that it is to hide from the angry spirits.

Table of Contents for the Haunted Southwest Series:
Haunted Hotel: The Stanley Hotel, Colorado
The Vulture Mine, Wickenburg, Arizona
Haunted Hotel: The San Carlos, Phoenix, Arizona
The Haunted Shores of the Great Salt Lake, Utah
Haunted Tombstone, Arizona
Haunted Mines: Ghost, Goblins and Tommy Knockers, Southwest
Ghost Camels of the Southwest
Haunted Dawson Cemetary, New Mexico
Haunted Inn: Who Haunts the Brook Forest Inn, Colorado
Halloween in Jerome, Arizona
The Mystery of the Missing Locomotive, Colorado
The Ghost of La Posada Resort and Spa
Ogden and Salt Lake City Ghost Tours
The Ghosts of the Copper Queen
The Redstone Castle
Highway to Hell
Ghost Train at Golden Spike

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