The auction house Néret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou maintain the auctioning of seventy sacred masks of the Hopi Indians, to be held on Friday, April 12th at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris. The Museum of Northern Arizona, the Heard Museum of Phoenix and also the Bureau for the Preservation of Hopi Culture have called for its cancellation, claiming their property rights. These Katsinam masks (see picture), worn by the dancers during religious ceremonies forbidden for white people, are considered sacred by the Hopi tribe, which lives in the North-East of Arizona. Several such items have been sold in Paris when the collection of André Breton got dispersed in 2003. These pieces can now be found in the great European Museums, the auction house reminds us. They emphasize that the Hopi base themselves on an article of the Hopi constitution which is not recognized in France because it is not a state, in order to reclaim items which have been acquired in a completely legal way by a great French collector.(AFP- Agence Press France)
A few thoughts: The pride in European museums seems to me a strange line of defense: should the Hopi come to Europe to hold the ceremonies in the 'great European Museums'? A second thought is that the Hopi as well as the other Pueblo like Zuni, Acoma and Jemez are nations within the USA. I would assume that the USA through their Department of Foreign Affairs could represent the Hopi Nation.