Courtesy Survival International
After the katsina handover, Hopi and the delegation exchanged gifts.

After 'Shameful' Auction in Paris, Sacred Katsinam Returned to Hopis


One of the Hopi katsinam connected to a controversial Parisian auction in April has come home to the Hopi people.

In a story that captivated ICTMN readers and many in the auction business, some 70 sacred objects, most of them Hopi katsinam, were sold by the auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou. The sale proceeded despite strenuous objections from the Hopi tribe and a last-minute legal attempt to stop (or at least delay) it by the group Survival International. That challenge was argued, unsuccessfuly, by lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber.

The scene in the auction house was described by one of those present as "heartbreaking." Hopi tribal chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa called it a "shameful saga."

RELATED: "Attorney for the Hopi Katsinam:
A Conversation with Pierre Servan-Schreiber"

Servan-Schreiber bought one of the katsinam (commonly referred to by non-Natives as "masks") with the intention of returning it. In a release, Survival Internetional reported that Servan-Schriber and Hopi leaders came together for a handover ceremony over the weekend.

"It is my way of telling the Hopi that we only lost a battle and not the war," Servan-Schreiber said. "I am convinced that in the future, those who believe that not everything should be up for sale will prevail. In the meantime, the Hopi will not have lost everything."

Another katsinam, purchased in memory of the French-American pop singer Joe Dassin, will also be returned to the Hopi.

Release: "Sacred object handed back to Hopi tribe after ‘shameful’ Paris auction"

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
May the Creator bless this man who returned the sacred artifact to our brothers & sisters of the Hopi Nation. Not every non-native person is ate up with evil, greed & corruption. There are STILL some very special people who walk in our spirit of kindness, compassion & love for others across Turtle Island. Blessings to those rare human beings & protection to they & those they love. Nowish, (Thank you) friends of we First Nations people who have that rare spirit within.