A judge in France refused to halt a controversial
where tribal cultural items are due to be sold today.
The Hopi Tribe
of Arizona filed suit to prevent the Néret-Minet auction house from selling over 70 items pending resolution of their provenance.
But the judge said the sale, which could draw more than $1 million, can go forward because it is not considered immoral under French law.
“These masks, despite their sacred character for the Hopi, cannot be likened to dead or alive beings,” Municipal Court Judge Magali Bouvier said today, The New York Times reported.
The U.S. Ambassador to France and museums in Arizona supported the tribe's efforts.
The tribe has said it won't bid on the items, which were taken from the reservation by a French citizen sometime in the early 1900s.
“We are deeply saddened and disheartened by this ruling in the French courts that allowed the auction to be held on Friday. It is sad to think that the French will allow the Hopi Tribe to suffer through the same cultural and religious thefts, denigrations and exploitations they experienced in the 1940s," Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa said today.
"Would there be outrage if Holocaust artifacts, Papal heirlooms or Quranic manuscripts were going up for sale on Friday to the highest bidder? I think so. Given the importance of these ceremonial objects to Hopi religion, you can understand why Hopis regard this – or any sale -- as sacrilege, and why we regard an auction not as homage but as a desecration to our religion," Shingoitewa added.
"Our tribal council will now convene to determine the Hopi Tribe’s next steps in this shameful saga," Shingoitewa concluded.
Get the Story:
French Judge Rules That Auction of Hopi Masks Can Proceed
(The New York Times 4/12)
Paris court OKs sale of North American artifacts
French court rules Hopi mask sale to proceed
French court allows auction of sacred Hopi masks
French court: Can Hopi masks be sold or are they too sacred?
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