Saturday, December 7, 2013

French Court Allows Auction of Hopi Artifacts to Proceed

On Monday an auction is going ahead in the Eve Auction House in France which contains 66 Native American artefacts. Among them are 25 Hopi masks, which the tribe believes are imbued with divine spirits. Last month representatives of the tribe tried to prevent the sale, saying that the objects were stolen and that selling them is a sacrilege. On Friday a French court delivered its verdict, allowing the sale to go ahead. The French legal authorities say the sale is legal because, despite their religious value to the tribe, the items are not associated with human remains or living beings in France.
It was the second unsuccessful effort by the tribe to block a sale. In April [...] [the tribe represented by its French lawyer], Pierre Servan-Schreibertook legal action against Tessier, Sarrou & Associés, another auction house, which had put 70 similar Hopi artifacts on sale. That auction went forward and generated more than $1 million in sales, d
espite protests and an appeal from Charles Rivkin, the United States ambassador to France, to delay the sale.
On Friday, the Eve auction house said: “American law doesn’t forbid the sale of items coming from Indian tribes when they are in the hands of private owners.”
Maïa de la Baume, 'French Court Allows Auction of Hopi Artifacts to Proceed', NY Times Blog December 6, 2013

Vignette: The Hopi have a reservation right slap-bang in the middle of the Navajo reservation (top right corner). 

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