Items stolen from dance group visiting Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – A Native American dance group traveled to Albuquerque this weekend to perform, but they left empty-handed after thieves stole away with all their turquoise jewelry, moccasins, feathers, etc Not only are these objects important to the dancers who need them to perform, but they also have sentimental and spiritual value having been passed down from generation to generation.

A weekend filled with prayers, songs and dances ended in heartbreak for the Acoma Buffalo Dance Group. “Everything means a lot to us, and we want it to come back so badly,” said 12-year-old principal dancer Mercedez Martinez.

It comes after a black holdall full of dance gear worth $15-20,000 was stolen on Sunday night. The tote was full of jewelry, dresses, loafers and more. Martinez said she was devastated. “Our hand feathers, those meant a lot to me and the collars,” Martinez said. “They were forwarded to [my grandmother]. When she leaves, they will be passed on to me. I don’t know if I will ever use them again. I don’t know if they will be pawned.

Mercedez’s grandmother, Wynema Garcia, said the group was made up of several children, all of them from the Acoma Pueblo and Hopi tribe. They perform regularly in Albuquerque. After their Sunday performance at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, they returned to their hotel, the Hampton Inn near the airport. Garcia said the tote was stolen from their truck while it was parked at the hotel. “There are a lot of things we need,” Garcia said. “It’s not only for our group, but also for our traditional actions.”

Garcia said they had another performance next week, but she said they couldn’t keep dancing if they couldn’t get their items back. “Anyone who has this tote, please give it back,” Martinez said. “It really means the world to us.”

The group reported the theft to the police. The APD said while the report is still being processed, investigators will be looking for any available evidence, such as surveillance, that may have picked up what happened on camera. APD also said hotels are targets for thieves because they know people have valuables. APD said anyone staying in a hotel should bring all important personal belongings inside.