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Pressure Mounting on Justice Department to Halt Hopi Auction

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Members of Congress along with the Hopi Tribe want the Department of Justice and the FBI to halt an auction of ceremonial items in Paris. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s the sixth such controversial sale since 2013.

Several Hopi items are being listed for thousands of dollars each by the EVE Auction house. The tribe is demanding the return of the sacred objects, called “katsina friends,” and says selling them is sacrilegious and offensive.

Hopi chairman Herman Honanie, along with Arizona’s entire congressional delegation, are calling on U.S. law enforcement officials to intervene. They say the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and other federal laws give the Hopi Tribe sole control over the items, making their sale and transfer illegal.

In recent years, the French government has denied the Hopi Tribe of any legal standing in challenging the auctions. Tribal officials say they’re a sovereign nation and should be allowed recognition by French courts.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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