Conroy Chino, left, a traditional leader of the Acoma Pueblo, joined tribal Gov. Kurt Riley to ask “people of France to honor our humanity" and return cultural items set for auction. Photo by Emily Zentner / Cronkite News

Auction of tribal property goes ahead in France amid opposition

An auction house in France went ahead with the sale of hundreds of tribal items on Monday but one item was pulled after protests from the United States.

Last week, leaders of Acoma Pueblo asked the EVE auction house in Paris to stop the sale of a sacred shield. Gov. Kurt Riley was moved to tears in describing the item's importance to the tribe.

"This is how much it hurts my people when we see these cultural items put on the internet and go up for sale," Riley said at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., after an emergency meeting among tribal leaders, Indian advocates and federal officials.

It turns out the shield had been stolen from the reservation sometime in the 1970s. The auction house pulled it from consideration due to questions about its provenance.

“It was withdrawn this morning pending further investigation,” Ann Berkley Rodgers, an attorney for the tribe, told The Albuquerque Journal. "For Acoma, it is not going to be a victory until the shield is returned."

Hundreds of other items were sold as protesters gathered outside the auction house. Included was a deer figurine from the Hoopa Valley Tribe in California.

“Auctioning off tribal sacred objects is extremely troubling not only because tribal law precludes the sale of these objects by individuals, but because items held by a dealer or collector are likely the result of wrongful transfer and may be for sale illegally," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

The sale was not as well attended as prior auctions, according to the Associated Press. Many items did not fetch the requested price, the AP said.

Get the Story:
Paris Auction Update: Acoma Shield Pulled, Attendance Low Amid Protests (Indian Country Today 5/31)
Pueblo shield withdrawn from Paris artifacts auction (AP 5/30)
Paris auction house cancels sale of Acoma shield (The Albuquerque Journal 5/30)
Catholics join outrage over sale of sacred Native American items (Catholic News Agency 5/30)
US official: Tribal shield should be pulled from auction (AP 5/27)
The Auction of Native American Artifacts (The Atlantic 5/27)
Should sacred tribal objects be for sale? Paris auction angers native Americans. (The Christian Science Monitor 5/27)

An Opinion:
Our view: Acoma prevails on shield — for now (The Santa Fe New Mexican 5/31)

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