Gallup, N.M., May 30, 2016 / 15:02 pm
Native Americans say a French auction house should return their sacred objects set to go on sale, and they have an ally in Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, N.M.
“My first reaction to this story was one of great sadness. It's tragic that this desire for personal profit from the sale of sacred objects is the ultimate goal,” Bishop Wall said. “These objects are sacred to the pueblo people and they belong to the whole community.”
The items come from tribes including the Hopi, Pueblo and Zuni as well as the prehistoric Hohokam tribe.
Other objects to be auctioned off include a ceremonial shield of the Acoma Pueblo, whose territory is in the region of the Gallup diocese.
“I understand their pain at the potential loss of these items, and I would like to add my voice and support to theirs in urging the sellers and buyers to withdraw these items from auction and return them to the Pueblo people,” said Bishop Wall.
The objects will be auctioned on Monday at Paris' EVE auction house along with other religious items and art pieces from the Americas, Africa and Asia.
Under traditional Hopi beliefs, the auction's mask-like pieces are considered to be the physical embodiment of their ancestors. The objecting Hopi say that selling the items is selling their ancestors' spirits, the Associated Press reports.
Other items include ancient jewelry and effigies linked to the prehistoric Hohokam tribe who lived in what is now Arizona.