Francois Mori, File AP Photo
In this Monday Dec. 15, 2014 file photo, a supporter of Native Americans holds a leaflet reading "Stop cultural genocide, Eve auction house must stop" to protest outside of the Drouot's auction house during the contested auction of Native American items in Paris, France. A French auction house has withdrawn a Pueblo mask from a contested sale of Native American artifacts after protests from the United States.

Paris Auction Update: Acoma Shield Pulled, Attendance Low Amid Protests

Vincent Schilling

The Eve Auction house in Paris reportedly pulled a Sacred Acoma Pueblo shield after reports that the item may have been stolen back in the 1970’s. The auction of hundreds of Native American sacred items and human remains, which took place on Monday, was relatively quiet, with many bids failing to meet the predicted catalog prices.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Phil Frayne told the Associated Press that the pulling of the shield was a "small victory in a larger battle" to repatriate tribal artifacts. Frayne says the U.S. government believes the 19th-century shield might have been taken illegally in the 1970s, and so it was withdrawn just before the auction Monday.

Though the showing was small, a total of 313 Native items were sold, including 12 sacred Kachina masks for $129,000, including the Crow Mother mask, which went for $42,300, which was approximately a third less than expected.

See Related: NMAI Tells Press: Stop Paris Auction of Sacred Items and Human Remains 

Outside of the auction house were protesters holding “Stop Cultural Genocide and Eve Doit Arreter (Eve auction house must stop)” including Crystal Worl a member of the Tlingit community.

Worl told the Associated Press the pulling of the shield was one step in the right direction, "Today, one item being able to be repatriated is a small step but a necessary step to the bigger picture," Worl said.

Worl said the shield "has cultural values that need to be passed on to the next generations. And it excites me to know that there is hope for the future."

The Department of the Interior Acting Assistant Secretary Lawrence S. Roberts also commented on the pulling of the shield from sale.

"We appreciate France's action on Monday to remove the Acoma shield from the auction held by the Eve Auction House.  We are continuing to work with Acoma leadership for the return of the shield.  We are committed to working with all Tribes to develop protocols for working with France and other governments to ensure that sacred objects are not sold through auctions, but returned to Tribes."

This latest Eve Auction in Paris has received exposure on a worldwide scale as #StopTheParisAuction trended on social media within hours after NMAI, Tribal and U.S. Government officials denounced the auction last week.

Department of the Interior Sally Jewell later denounced the sale as well as others.

See Related: Interior Sec. Jewell Denounces Paris Auction of Sacred Native Items

In a surprising alliance, even Catholic Church officials sided with Native tribes. Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, N.M. told the Angelus Tidings News “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. These objects are sacred to the pueblo people and they belong to the whole community,” said Bishop Wall, commenting on the range of items from the Hopi, Pueblo and Zuni as well as the prehistoric Hohokam tribe.

“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.”

Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling

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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
In the world of social media, people have more power in the palms of their hands than many realize. Less and less people pick up a daily newspaper in print form than ever before. This is due to both, print news is already outdated by the time it hits the shelves and/or why spend the money when its free on-line for the most part. I have continued to carry a bit of old school and still enjoy sitting with the morning paper and watching the world hurriedly zipping by as I enjoy a second cup of discounted senior coffee. I am going to suggest that articles such as this do Indian country a big favor that stands to benefit all. Call me lazy, but how about posting a website or facebook address so we can whip out our handy dandy iphone and send the bastards, who do not understand religious and cultural sensitivity, a piece of our mind? Being bombarded from tribal nations, be they 800 or 100,000 members strong, may help turn the tide of these fickle-minded, greedy people ~ perhaps not immediately, but it sure as hell would not hurt. Many thanks to the padre for stepping up to the plate. You are an angel in my book!

Mojo Hand's picture
Mojo Hand
Submitted by Mojo Hand on
Following up on bullbear's post...."If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito."----Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
Bonjour! Mojo Hand has a point, as does that stinkin' moquito - (pun intended) In fact, I have tried to sleep w/ a mosquito and ended up using muh own Hand and slapping myself as I tried to put an end to that irritating buzzing. I do have a contact for the Eve Auction House so we can try and reach those inept boneheads; Ph# 01 53 34 04 04 (I know the numbers don't make sense) and email: [email protected] There you have it, I got off my lazy booty and tried. Ciao!