Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stop the Auction of Hopi and Zuni Sacred Items in Paris April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013
Sacred Hopi masks sold in Paris auction, after court gives go ahead:
http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2013/04/sacred-hopi-masks-sold-in-paris-auction.html
 Friday morning, April 12, 2013
This morning, a French Judge, Mrs Magali Bouvier, rejected a complaint presented by Survival International on behalf of the Hopi Tribe attempting to prevent the auctioning of Hopi sacred objects (of which it is not clear yet how they have been acquired). Mr. Gilles Néret-Minet, representing the auction firm, declared on the public radio just before the hearing, that the complaint was an attack against the basic principles of "Private Property". It seems that the Judge's decision relies on the same kind of arguments. In other words, that court decision is an obvious attack of merchandizing against any attempt to rescue some cultural or spiritual values from being turned into commodities! -- Christine Prat in France
 Survival goes to court to stop Hopi sacred objects auction 9 April 2013
Hopi elder James Kootshongsie, who died in 1996. The Hopi are 'vehemently opposed' to the sale of the tribe's sacred objects in a Paris auction house.
Hopi elder James Kootshongsie, who died in 1996. The Hopi are 'vehemently opposed' to the sale of the tribe's sacred objects in a Paris auction house.
© Jonathan Mazower / Survival
Lawyers acting for Survival International have today filed legal papers in an attempt to stop the sale of sacred objects of the Hopi tribe in a Paris auction house this Friday.
The Hopi tribe of Arizona had previously written to the auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou, asking them to cancel the sale on the grounds that the objects were the cultural property of the tribe, and that their public display and sale caused them grave offence. However, the auction house appears intent on proceeding with the sale.
Lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber of the firm Skadden, Arps has today obtained permission from a Paris judge to summon the auction house to a court hearing, to take place on April 11 at 10.00am, to hear Survival’s motion for a suspension of the auction sale, pending a proper examination of the lawfulness of the collection and its sale.
The Hopi tribe has said it is ‘vehemently opposed’ to the auction, and has requested that the objects are returned to them immediately.
‘The Hopi Tribe must protect the cultural beliefs that we have used for centuries and still continue to use today’, said Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa. ‘We think these sacred objects were stolen from the Hopi Tribe and should be returned to the proper custodians and caretakers, the Kachina chiefs, within their respective Hopi villages.’
Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi Tribe’s Cultural Preservation Office, said, ‘The mere fact that a price tag has been placed upon such culturally significant and religious items is beyond offensive. They do not have a market value. Period.’
Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, said today, ‘It ought to be pretty clear to the auctioneers that the sale of these objects would cause profound hurt and distress to the Hopi people. To the Hopi, these are not museum objects but an intrinsic part of a thriving, living culture, which should be treated with respect. The auction house should think again and cancel the sale.’
Note to Editors:
- The Hopi tribe number around 18,000, living in 12 villages in northeastern Arizona. They call their homeland Hopituskwa.
- Download the Hopi’s letter to the auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou (pdf, 205 kb)
Petition:
 http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-auction-of-hopi-and-zuni-sacred-objects-in-paris-on-april-12-by-neret-minet-tessier-sarrou-auction-house-and-drouot-richelieu-gallery?utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_false


The following was posted by the director of the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, AZ. "...the proposed sale of these katsina friends, and the international exposure of them, is causing outrage, sadness, and stress among members of the affected tribes. For them katsina friends are living beings; that is why they are called “friends” (kwatsi) in the Hopi language. The friends are loved, cared for, and ceremonially fed. They are a connection between the human world and the spirits of all living things and the ancestors. To be displayed disembodied in your catalogue and on the internet is sacrilegious and offensive. If one claims to value these katsina friends as “works of art,” one must also respect the people who made them and the native traditions that govern their use. And, as fellow human beings, it is my hope that you will offer understanding and empathy to the tribal people who are so deeply affected by this proposed sale. You cannot honor and value these katsina friends while dishonoring their makers. These are universal principles of cross-cultural human conduct."

To:
Drouot-Richelieu Gallery
Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou Auction House
To the Directors,

I am writing to request that you cancel this auction, withdraw the katsina friends from sale, and that they be returned by the “owner” to the Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, and Jemez people. I have placed quotation marks around the word “owner,” because no one can “own” them but the Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, and Jemez people. Although katsina friends can be held and cared for by individuals, they belong to the communities from which they come or to specific ceremonial societies. Under tribal custom and law they cannot be sold or given away by an individual.

I can tell you from personal knowledge that the proposed sale of these katsina friends, and the international exposure of them, is causing outrage, sadness, and stress among members of the affected tribes. For them katsina friends are living beings; that is why they are called “friends” (kwatsi) in the Hopi language. The friends are loved, cared for, and ceremonially fed. They are a connection between the human world and the spirits of all living things and the ancestors. To be displayed disembodied in your catalogue and on the internet is sacrilegious and offensive. If one claims to value these katsina friends as “works of art,” one must also respect the people who made them and the native traditions that govern their use. And, as fellow human beings, it is my hope that you will offer understanding and empathy to the tribal people who are so deeply affected by this proposed sale. You cannot honor and value these katsina friends while dishonoring their makers. These are universal principles of cross-cultural human conduct.

On behalf of the Museum of Northern Arizona, I appeal to your sense of decency and humanity, and request that you terminate the auction and send these katsina friends to their proper homes among the native people in Arizona and New Mexico.

Sincerely,
Robert G. Breunig, Ph.D.
Director, Museum of Northern Arizona

_______________________________________________
Ce 29 mars 2013, Flagstaff

Étude Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou
Commissaires-Priseurs
8, Rue Saint-Marc
75002 Paris FRANCE

Messieurs les Directeurs:

C’est dans ma capacité de Directeur du Museum of Northern Arizona (Flagstaff, Arizona, États-Unis) que je me permets de vous contacter. Le nom de notre musée vous est connu : son fondateur, mon prédécesseur Harold S. Colton, fut l’auteur du livre Hopi Kachina Dolls que vous citez comme source d’autorité dans votre catalogue de 70 “masques katsinam” – plus correctement nommés des amis katsinam – présentés pour une vente aux enchères de votre établissement, prévue pour ce 12 avril 2013.

Je vous écris pour demander dès aujourd’hui l’annulation de cette vente ; le retrait desdits amis katsinam de toute vente présente ou future ; et surtout, que ceux-ci puissent être restitués aux peuples Hopi, Zuni, Acoma et Jemez par leur « propriétaire ». Si je mets entre guillemets ce dernier, c’est que nul ne peut être en « possession » des amis katsinam, à part les peuple Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, et Jemez dont ils proviennent. Je tiens par ailleurs à vous assurer par ma propre expérience récente et personnelle, que cette vente annoncée des amis katsinam, ainsi que leur exposition publique et internationale, est source d’outrage, tristesse et angoisse - profonds et réels - parmi les membres des tribus concernées. Pour eux, les amis katsinam sont des êtres vivants : raison pour laquelle la langue Hopi les dénomme « amis » (kwatsi). Les kwatsi sont aimés, chéris, nourris de façon rituelle. Ils incarnent le lien entre le monde humain, les esprits de tout ce qui vit, et les ancêtres. Se trouver ainsi exposés - désincarnés - dans votre catalogue et sur Internet, est une offense profonde, un sacrilège. Si les amis katsina peuvent être soignés et tenus entre mains humaines, ils appartiennent seules aux communautés dont ils sont issus, spécifiquement à leurs sociétés cérémonielles. Par coutume et par loi tribale, leur vente, donation ou dation par qui que ce soit, est proscrite.

Quiconque prétend estimer ces amis katsina comme « œuvres d’art » se doit en parallèle de respecter les peuples qui les ont crées, et les traditions amérindiennes qui gouvernent leur utilisation. Aussi, sur un plan purement humain, devriez-vous étendre votre compréhension, voire votre empathie, envers les peuples tribaux si profondément affectés par cette vente dont vous êtes l’organisateur. On ne peut apprécier et estimer ces amis katsina tout en déshonorant leurs créateurs. Il s’agit de principes universels, et d’une conduite humaine digne de ce nom...


Au nom du Museum of Northern Arizona, je fais appel à votre sens de décence et d’humanité en vous priant de supprimer cette vente, et de faire parvenir ces amis katsina à leur seul vrai lieu d’appartenance : chez les peuples amérindiens de l’Arizona et New Mexico, afin que ceux-ci puissent en disposer selon leur rite et coutume.

Je vous prie, Messieurs les Directeurs, de recevoir l’expression mon sentiment respectueux et profondément déconcerté.

Robert G. Breunig, Ph.D.
Director, Museum of Northern Arizona


Sincerely,
[Your name]

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