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Selling the Sacred, Again: Another Auction of Hopi Katsinam Takes Place in Paris

For the sixth time, a Parisian auction house has put sacred Native American artifacts on the block, despite international efforts to prevent the sale.
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Yet another auction of sacred Hopi artifacts has taken place in Paris despite the efforts of Hopi officials and U.S. lawmakers.

The auctioneers EVE (Estimations Ventes aux Encheres) conducted the auction on June 1 at the Drouot auction house in Paris.

In a May 20 statement, Hopi Tribe Chairman Herman G. Honanie said that “We need to bring all our Katsina Friends home to their rightful place on the Hopi lands. ... 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.”

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The following day, several lawmakers sent a letter, on Congressional stationery, requesting Federal intervention in the matter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James B. Comey. The letter was signed by Arizona's entire Congressional delegation: Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, and Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick, Martha McSally, Raul Grijalva, Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Ruben Gallego, Trent Franks, and Kyrsten Sinema.

Nonetheless, the auction, the sixth of its kind, according to the Hopi, proceeded as scheduled. As with previous auctions, protesters were present. According to an AP report, an auctioneer called the objections of two women pro-Hopi "propaganda" as they shouted back "you can't sell sacred works!"

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"I showed no disrespect to anyone and they took me out of the room ... violently," Morgane Geoffroy, one of the protesters, told AP. "I'm against cultural genocide ... These are sacred objects that were stolen from people and should be returned to those people."