The Hopi tribe is trying to stop a French auction house from selling a collection of religious items believed to be stolen from the reservation in the 1930s by a French citizen.
Niret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou is set to auction the items on April 12, but Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi Tribe’s Cultural Preservation Office, said they belong to the tribe, have no monetary value and cannot be sold.
“The sacred objects that are being put up for auction belong to the entire Hopi Tribe, they have cultural patrimony, meaning there is a tribal and cultural right, they have never belonged to a single person,” said Kuwanwisiwma.
The colorful items are worn on the face during rites of passage ceremonies. Hopi members describe them simply as sacred objects and any other description is considered offensive.