Precedent | Federal Warrant to Recover Stolen Acoma Pueblo Ceremonial Mask Auctioned in France

ACOMA

http://www.indianz.com/News/2015/04/10/leader-of-hopi-tribe-sues-over.asp

The leader of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, Mr. Herman Honanie, and the Holocaust Art Restitution Project filed a lawsuit over the auction of sacred property in France in 2015 .The tribe tried to halt an auction last December but was rebuffed by the board of auction sales. The same board had also refused to halt a different auction of sacred property in June.”These two decisions close the door to ANY tribal group AND their members to file any cultural claims in France involving auction houses, regardless of title-related merits,”

Ori Z. Soltes, the chairman of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, said in announcing the lawsuit with Chairman Herman G. Honanie of the Hopi Tribe.The U.S. Embassy had asked authorities in France to halt both auctions in order for the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and other tribes to examine the items being sold. The diplomatic entreaties failed despite international pressure that accompanied the June sale.The Annenberg Foundation purchased some items at that auction and returned them to the Hopi Tribe, the San Carlos Apache Tribe and theWhite Mountain Apache Tribe

Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim went to France and acquired seven masks at the sale in December when a personal appeal to the the Drouot auction house failed.

Things went a bit differently for the Acoma Pueblo tribe this year.

A federal judge has granted a warrant to recover a sacred shield that was stolen from Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico.The shield was taken from the reservation sometime in the 1970s. Somehow it ended up in the hands of an auction house in France, where it was almost sold to the highest bidder in late May.”The ceremonial shield was stolen, taken and removed from the Pueblo of Acoma in the 1970s and transported in interstate and foreign commerce,” a July 20 complaint submitted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico reads. “The shield was smuggled out of the United States and taken to its current location in Paris, France.”The warrant was approved on Tuesday. It authorizes the seizure of the shield “whatever means may be appropriate.””You are, therefore, hereby commanded to arrest the Defendant Property as soon as practicable by serving a copy of this warrant on the custodian in whose possession, custody or control the property is presently found, and to use whatever means may be appropriate to protect and maintain it in your custody until further order of this court,” the warrant reads. (read the full article | Indianz.Com)

MASKS

 

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