Archaeology Magazine

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Hopi Indians of Arizona Want to Halt Paris Sale of Artifacts

Friday, April 05, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE—The U.S. State and Interior Departments are advising members the Hopi Indians of Arizona in their effort to stop the auction of 70 Katsinam, or sacred masks, next week at the Néret-Minet auction house. Katsinam, or “friends,” are owned communally and are thought to embody divine spirits. Many of the items in the sale are more than 100 years old, and may have been taken from unattended shrines, confiscated by missionaries, or even sold by individual tribe members. “Sacred items like this should not have a commercial value. The bottom line is we believe they were taken illegally,” said Leigh J. Juwanwisiwma of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. The government has agreements with other nations to stop the sale of their antiquities in the U.S., but the U.S. does not have reciprocal agreements to protect American artifacts abroad.