Any chance of a sharper, bigger picture; some description and any context? Is that a tall pointy hat on top of the head or something extending from the back? Is the bottom broke, suggestive that is was part of a statuette? Is it clay or stone? Did the guy say where he got it from? Did he travel or live abroad? It looks Asian.
Not much that can be said without a bit more to go on and even pointing you in the direction of resources needs rather more than you have given us.
I think we can at least conclude it ain't native American.
###addition: looking again at the pic... is that a hand in front of the mouth with an extended finger, as if making a "sssshhhh" sound? It's difficult to tell... but if so, it could be a representation of Harpocrates, the Hellenistic god of silence. That's how Harpocrates is usually depicted. That would probably put it in Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece or those kinda parts of the Greco-Roman Empire.
Yes, it’s definitely part of a statue of Harpocrates.
Harpocrates – Ptolemaic (c. 350-330BC)
[Pic by Patrick Clenet - Creative Commons license]
Harpocrates derives from the Egyptian child god Horus, normally depicted as a young nude boy with a finger to his lips. In Egypt, the depiction is known from the end of the 4th Millenium BC, originally as the newborn sun god and then as the young moon god. When the Greeks conquered Egypt in 332 BC they annexed the imagery of the Egyptian deity to represent their own god of silence… Harpocrates.
Thereafter, you’ll find this deity in statuette form throughout Alexander the Great’s Empire in Asia Minor and later in the Greco-Roman region in general. My guess is that this may have found its way to the States from somewhere like Afghanistan or Iraq via a serviceman.
The raised hand is always the right hand of the figure, except on sideways facing relief engravings. The earliest examples sometimes have a side lock of plaited hair on the left side of the head as you look at it (the right side of the head itself). This often breaks off and is also sometimes made of different material than the rest of the statue so it may detach… but you may be able to see the breakage or attachment point if this is the case. If it’s there it’s a good sign for an early Ptolemaic date.
It is often possible to put a more precise location and date to some of these things when they are complete statues… but with just the head, it’s difficult. The headgear can also help, but you’ve chopped the top off in the picture! That’s crucial information. It looks like it might be a “hedjet” crown or a broken “atef” crown – in which cases it would usually have a bulbous or bobble-like end… or a break-point where that used to be. That would be characteristically Egyptian.
Even without that, stylistically it looks good for a date at least as early as 200-300BC rather than a later Greco-Roman example in my opinion.