Monday, June 30, 2014

Despite Legal Challenges, Sale of Hopi Religious Artifacts Continues in France

The thought of Americans lecturing the French about cultural sensibilities seems like a hard sell in a country still shielding its language from idiomatic blasphemies like “le weekend” and “hashtag.” But the United States Embassy in Paris spent several days last week educating French officials about the strong emotions that have led Native American tribes like the Hopi and Navajo to sue Parisian auction houses — unsuccessfully, time and again — over the sale of sacred objects.
Prompted by another large sale on Friday of American Indian religious items — the fourth such auction in the past 18 months — embassy officials invited an American judge, who is herself a member of the Hopi tribe, to explain to government officials, art dealers, academics and lawyers why treating spiritual objects as commodities is insulting and sacrilegious.

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