June 1, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) Despite protest from the Hopi leadership, on June 1st and 10th several sacred items used by the Hopi Tribe will be up for sale at a Paris auction house. The latest news comes as officials with the French government denied a request from the Hopi to stop the upcoming sale. This is the sixth legal challenge the Hopi have lost in the last three years.
The auction house will be selling “katsina friends”, which the Hopi believe to be the embodiment of living spirits. Attorney Pierre Ciric filed a request with the French government seeking a suspension of the sale. However, French authorities dismissed the lawsuits stating that France does not have a law to protect indigenous people.
“Here it’s an actual government entity that states policy from the French government that says U.S. tribes do not exist legally speaking, so they cannot appear before us,” Ciric said.
The Hopi had previously asked the federal government to intervene in the auction. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar spoke with Hopi Chairman Herman Honanie about the difficulties of the situation. A letter was sent to the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, asking the government to prevent the sale. Honanie stated that the items assist in connecting the Hopi to the spirit world. The Hopi Tribe also requested the support of Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake.
“We need to bring all our katsina friends home to their rightful place on the Hopi lands,” Chairman Herman G. Honanie said. “Hopi is absolute in its stance that these auctions must cease. We call on all local, state and federal agencies to aid our efforts in recovering our sacred Katsina Friends. They belong on Hopi and must be returned.”
According to the Navajo-Hopi Observer, the sacred objects are objects of cultural patrimony and cannot be transferred, sold, conveyed and removed from the jurisdiction without permission of the Hopi Tribe pursuant to Hopi customary law and tradition, Hopi Ordinance 26 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
The desecration of American Indian and indigenous communities’ beliefs and rites continues into the 21st century. When will the tribes get the respect they deserve as free, autonomous human beings?
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