Tse-whit-zen artifacts languish in storage

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One of the Pacific Northwest's most astonishing archaeological finds in a generation has languished for more than a year, lingering on metal shelves in a Seattle warehouse, unseen by the public and unexamined by scientists.

No one questions the discoveries - artifacts from a 2,700-year-old Native American village excavated from the Port Angeles waterfront amid great public interest - should be exhibited, analyzed and celebrated.

But the 900 boxes of artifacts - such things as spindle whorls carved from whale vertebrae, along with animal bones and shell fragments - remain hung up in a bureaucratic no man's land. Questions about who owns and controls access to the collection are still in dispute.

And there's also another all-too-familiar problem when the government gets involved: The money to study the collection evaporated.

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