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2 Dead, 14 Injured During Navajo Ceremony In New Mexico


New Mexico authorities are investigating an incident that happened over the weekend when they found 16 people inside a Hogan who were suffering symptoms of smoke inhalation after a nighttime ceremony.

Navajo Nation police say the incident happened at a gathering in Alamo, New Mexico outside of Albuquerque. They say two people were found unresponsive and 14 others were suffering from signs of smoke inhalation.

The unresponsive man and woman later died.

Citing concerns about cultural sensitivity, officials declined to name the type of ceremony, saying only that it involved an open fire pit burning inside the home.

Those hospitalized for smoke inhalation were treated and released Sunday, said Christina Tsosie, a Navajo police spokeswoman.

The reaction to the deaths has been far-reaching and widespread among many Native Americans in recent days.

Native American Church ceremonies, which last through the night, are held most often in teepees, though on the Navajo Nation they also can be conducted in Hogans which can be air-tight because mud is used to seal log walls.

Tsosie, the police spokeswoman, said the case had been referred to a criminal investigator as a standard procedure.