The latest batch of Native American artefacts were sold at auction in Paris on Wednesday in spite of condemnation from the US and others.
Several masks and statues from two tribes – the Hopi and the Acoma – fetched 400,000 euros.
Members of the Hopi tribe, which uses the items for religious rituals to invoke ancestral spirits, had come from Arizona to protest – in vain.
“To me it’s something that can’t be bought or sold. There is no price value on it,” said Sam Tenak Hongva, Hopi cultural leader. “Collections and collectors from museums within the United states came out and took some of the objects without permission. They took too many and there is no place for them to liquidate them I guess or get any money so they started seeking private buyers, private collectors,”
“Hopi Indians are totally opposed to the trade of these objects and for these objects to be shown, (their images) published and scattered,” said Jean-Patrick Razon, Director of Ngo Survival International, which protects Hopi tribal interests. “According to them they are not marketable items, they are what they call ‘friends’, ‘spiritual beings’, which should be returned to their homeland.”
Sales such as Wednesday’s are legal in France and have long been carried out.
Some experts claim thousands of masks have been sold by the Hopis themselves, and argue that no text says they belong to the tribe.