Surprise! Charity Buys 21 Sacred Katsinam for Hopi at Auction in Paris


There's no Santa Claus in Hopi tradition, but Hopi and San Carlos Apache tribal members are waking up today to some unexpected gifts that might as well have come from a fat guy in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.

As ICTMN has followed over the past few days, international efforts failed to stop 25 sacred items from being auctioned in Paris, and in a saddening case of deja vu, the pieces, most of them katsinam treasured by the Hopi, were sold on Monday.

Late yesterday, a press release announced that 24 of the 25 pieces had been bought anonymously by the Annenberg Foundation, at a total cost of $530,000. Twenty-one of them will be returned to the Hopi, and three to the San Carlos Apache. Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, Director and Vice President of the organization, put into words what many Hopi have been saying all along: "these are not trophies to have on one's mantel; they are truly sacred works for the Native Americans.  They do not belong in auction houses or private collections.  It gives me immense satisfaction to know that they will be returned home to their rightful owners."

Hopi cultural leader Sam Tenakhongva was pleased at the development. "The Annenberg Foundation set an example today of how to do the right thing," he said. "Our hope is that this act sets an example for others that items of significant cultural and religious value can only be properly cared for by those vested with the proper knowledge and responsibility. They simply cannot be put up for sale."

Pierre Servan Schreiber, the lawyer who made the case in a French court on Friday, also bought a sacred item he plans to return to the Hopi. "Now we have reason to celebrate," he said.

The Annenberg Foundation's purchase represents about one-third of the total value of the auction, which was $1.6 million.

Release: Annenberg Foundation and Hopi Nation Announce Return of Sacred Artifacts to Native American Hopi Tribe

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David Pecos's picture
David Pecos
Submitted by David Pecos on
This is great news. Being a pueblo man that did not get raised in a traditional way, I have come to respect and honor traditions that are passed down generation to generation. Hearing how these items will go back to the rightful owners makes me feel even prouder to be pueblo. Thank you Annenberg Foundation for doing this and placing back into the rightful hands. Blessings to you!

hammertime's picture
Submitted by hammertime on
This makes me wonder who will be entrusted with these artifacts worth 500k?? How will they be protected to keep some theif... ( red or white) ... from stealing them or selling them some day again? I am just curious what safe-guards will be put in place to protect them..?? and I wonder who sold them or stole them the first time.. how long ago were they taken from the Navahos..... Maybe catholic preists doing gods work?? I would like to read the story behind how they were lost...