The Hopi Tribe is getting a little tired of a Paris auction house selling their sacred items. The tribe’s leaders have asked the FBI and the Department of Justice to get the items back. The sacred items include ceremonial masks that are rarely seen. The Elders say the masks should never leave the reservation. But the French auction house, Estimations Ventes aux Encheres, has sold sacred Hopi items six times over the last couple of years. The items, according to the auction house, legally belong to the collectors that offer them for sale not the Hopi. A Paris court agrees with the auction house.
The Hopi have filed suits in Paris Courts to stop the sale of the items they call sacred Katsina Friends, but the French Courts have dismissed the cases because French laws do not protect indigenous people. Over 70 masks have been sold in France since 2013.
A charitable foundation bought 20 masks in 2013 and returned them to the Hopi, but because of French law more masks will be sold this year. The Hopi are still fighting, but this battle could be another major defeat for the tribe.