Archaeology Magazine

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Native American Artifacts Sold in France

Friday, April 12, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE—A Paris court ruled that an auction of religious items of the Hopi tribe of Arizona could proceed, despite appeals to suspend the sale from the Hopi tribe, the U.S. government, and actor Robert Redford. One of the 70 masks for sale was purchased by an association that will return it to the Hopi tribe. “The decision is very disappointing since the masks will be sold and dispersed. The Hopi tribe will be extremely saddened by the decision, especially since the judgment recognizes that these masks have a sacred value. The judge considers that the imminent damage (to the masks) is not sufficiently strong,” said Pierre Servan-Schreiber, a lawyer for the Hopi tribe. The Hopi tribe says that the masks were stolen sometime in the early twentieth century. “I am also very concerned about the Hopis’ sadness, but you cannot break property law. These are in (private) collections in Europe: they are no longer sacred,” said Gilles Neret-Minet, of the auction house behind the sale.