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U.S. and French Officials to Address Sacred Object Auctions

Arizona Republic

This week marked the most recent sale of several sacred Native American objects at a Paris auction house. U.S. and French officials have agreed to work together to address the issue. Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports.

French courts have repeatedly ruled that the auctions are legal, despite condemnation from U.S. officials and tribes. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel and the French Minister of Justice met in Paris last week to discuss the sales. While the details are vague, they plan to search for legal means to protect tribal objects and find out how auction houses acquire them.

Officials with the Hopi tribe say many of the sacred objects were stolen or illegally removed from the reservation. They say the so-called kachina friends are sacred living beings and can’t be sold.

Hopi Chairman Herman Honanie says the cooperation between U.S. and French officials is a positive development.

I can only hope that it has a huge impact, and will have a positive impact in this whole matter. I think it’s going to have to take both countries coming together and hopefully dealing with it effectively,” says Honanie.

Honanie wants the Hopi to have a direct role in the process. The Holocaust Art Restitution Project and the entire Arizona congressional delegation have condemned the sales.

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