Herman Honanie. Photo from Facebook
The leader of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona and the Holocaust Art Restitution Project filed a lawsuit over the auction of sacred property in France. The tribe tried to halt an auction last December but was rebuffed by the board of auction sales. The same board had also refused to halt a different auction of sacred property in June. "These two decisions close the door to ANY tribal group AND their members to file any cultural claims in France involving auction houses, regardless of title-related merits," Ori Z. Soltes, the chairman of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, said in announcing the lawsuit with Chairman Herman G. Honanie of the Hopi Tribe. The U.S. Embassy had asked authorities in France to halt both auctions in order for the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and other tribes to examine the items being sold. The diplomatic entreaties failed despite international pressure that accompanied the June sale. The Annenberg Foundation purchased some items at that auction and returned them to the Hopi Tribe, the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
The Navajo Nation acquired the masks pictured here at an auction in France in December. The tribe approved dissemination of the photo of the sacred property.
Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim went to France and acquired seven masks at the sale in December when a personal appeal to the the Drouot auction house failed.
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