A man who pleaded guilty to illegally selling the bones of a Cheyenne Indian faces up to two years in prison under a law designed to protect native burial grounds.

In the first prosecution under the provision forbidding the removal of American Indian remains, Richard P. Maniscalco, 49, admitted in federal court Monday that he sold part of a human leg bone along with other objects taken from American Indian graves and the Custer Battlefield in Montana.Maniscalco, of Rappahannock Academy, Va., could receive two years in prison, a $200,000 fine and up to two years of supervised release. He also agreed to forfeit dozens of illegally taken artifacts.

U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Curtis Sewell set sentencing for Feb. 21.

The case was the first prosecution for selling human remains under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, according to the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which prosecuted the case. Other cases have been brought for sale of artifacts.

"It's about time justice is being done on behalf of the native people of this land," said Viola Hatch, chairman of the tribal government of the Cheyenne-Arapaho of Okla-homa.

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"All these years we've been saying, `Leave our ancestors alone. Leave our people alone,' " Hatch said in a telephone interview. "How would you feel if we went into your cemeteries and dug up a great grandma or great grandpa? This is how we feel."

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