Auction of Hopi Ceremonial Items Proceeds in Paris

Jun 10, 2015

Another auction of Hopi and Acoma Pueblo ceremonial items has taken place in Paris. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s the latest in a series of controversial sales of sacred Native American items.

Hopi Chairman Herman Honanie
Credit Mark Henle/The Republic

Hopi tribal members traveled to Paris this week to try to stop the auction. They say the sacred objects, known as “katsina friends,” are collectively owned by the tribe and can never leave the reservation. Any such auction equates to selling stolen property.

The French have denied Native American nations of any legal standing, and so far the government agency responsible for the auctions has refused to stop them. Recently, Arizona’s entire congressional delegation called on the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department to pressure the French government into halting the sales.

Worldwide groups, including the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, have condemned the auctions, which are illegal in the U.S. according to federal law. Since 2013, there have been several such sales of Native American items in Paris.