Feds: Sales of Tribal Items at Paris Auction Houses Decline

Sep 7, 2018

A federal report shows the number of Native American cultural items listed for bidding declined significantly at five Paris auction houses after widespread uproar two years ago halted the sale of an Acoma Pueblo ceremonial shield — an item tribal leaders say was illegally taken from their New Mexico community.

Pueblo of Acoma Gov. Kurt Riley speaks as a group of American Indian Nations and American Indian advocates hold a news conference at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, to contest a Paris auction house's upcoming auction of Native American remains and sacred objects.
Credit Andrew Harnik/AP

The U.S. Government Accountability Office's report this week analyzed sales and listings at auction houses that tribal and federal officials identified as primary markets for the items.

The federal report found that 1,400 Native American cultural items were listed for sale at the auction houses between 2012 and 2017, with about half selling for a total of $7 million.

Figures also shows that after a peak in listings in May 2016, the number of items listed and sold dropped significantly in the following year.