Arizona Leaders Ask FBI, DOJ To Help Stop Auction Of Hopi Artifacts

By Carrie Jung
Published: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 6:04pm
Updated: Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 8:50am
(Photo by Carrie Jung - KJZZ)
Hopi Tribal Chairman Herman Honanie (left) joined Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar (right) to discuss the difficulties the tribe has faced in trying to repatriate the items that many tribal members consider sacred.

Arizona’s Congressional Delegation is asking the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to join the effort to stop the sale of Hopi artifacts at a Paris auction house next month. The request was submitted to the agencies last week.

The involvement would add to the current lawsuits the tribe has already filed in the French court system. Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar said the agencies have not yet responded to the letter.

"When you understand a tribe’s association, the federal bureau of investigation, the DOJ is their chief legal opportunity for them in their representation worldwide or nationwide," he said. 

The Paris auction house plans to sell 13 items that hold religious significance to many Hopi Tribal members in auctions set for June 1 and 10.

Hopi Tribal chairman Herman Honanie joined Gosar Wednesday to discuss the difficulties the tribe has faced in trying to repatriate the items that many tribal members consider sacred.

Honanie said the tribe is exploring multiple avenues, but buying them back is not an option being considered.

"Thereby we would be putting a value on these kinds of objects," he said. "And we just don’t want to do that, we can’t go that. And once you start doing that the value of these objects just goes up."

The Hopi Tribe has unsuccessfully challenged in the sale in the French court system, but attorneys representing the tribe say they’ll be submitting an appeal just before one of next month’s two auctions.

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