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Former Hopi chairman disputes theft charge

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — An arrest warrant has been issued for a former Hopi chairman who is charged with stealing a bust of a tribal running legend from a museum.

A criminal complaint filed in Hopi tribal court alleged that Ben Nuvamsa took the bronze bust of Louis Tewanima from a museum last August without permission. An arrest warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court this month for an arraignment.

Nuvamsa said he never was served with the complaint. He said he had permission to pick up the bust to display at an annual Labor Day weekend race that honors Tewanima, a 1912 Olympic medalist.

U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs police Lt. Gibson Namoki said the bust is in an evidence room.

The museum manager, Anna Silas, declined comment Wednesday.

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