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Alaska woman finds owner of box of artifacts left in cab

January 1, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A box of Alaska Native artifacts will be returned to the owner after it was left in a taxicab about three decades ago.

Ashley Christensen tracked down the owner of the box that contained an assortment of artifacts, some estimated to be thousands of years old, KTUU-TV reported this week. A family member who is a retired cab owner had given Christensen the box when he was moving out of Alaska.

“He gave it to my husband and I, and I’ve had it on my shelf for just two years, not knowing what to do with it,” said Christensen, an employee of Chugach Alaska Corp., one of the 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations.

Christensen looked through the artifacts, finding an item carved with “Ben in Savoonga, Alaska” and 1981. The name led her to Ben Pungowiyi, an artist in the village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island.

“I talked to Ben and said, ‘I have this crazy story for you,’” Christensen said. ”‘Do you remember leaving a box in the back of a cab?’”

Pungowiyi remembered and was floored when he received the call.

“I went, ‘Oh my God,’ you know?” Pungowiyi said. “And what an honest person, this person was. There’s only a few honest people left in this world.”

Christensen said she’s looking for way to send the box to Pungowiyi safely.

“It means a lot to be able to give somebody back what was theirs,” she said.

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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