One of the Hopi katsinam connected to a controversial Parisian auction in April has come home to the Hopi people.
In a story that captivated ICTMN readers and many in the auction business, some 70 sacred objects, most of them Hopi katsinam, were sold by the auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou. The sale proceeded despite strenuous objections from the Hopi tribe and a last-minute legal attempt to stop (or at least delay) it by the group Survival International. That challenge was argued, unsuccessfuly, by lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber.
The scene in the auction house was described by one of those present as "heartbreaking." Hopi tribal chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa called it a "shameful saga."
Servan-Schreiber bought one of the katsinam (commonly referred to by non-Natives as "masks") with the intention of returning it. In a release, Survival Internetional reported that Servan-Schriber and Hopi leaders came together for a handover ceremony over the weekend.
"It is my way of telling the Hopi that we only lost a battle and not the war," Servan-Schreiber said. "I am convinced that in the future, those who believe that not everything should be up for sale will prevail. In the meantime, the Hopi will not have lost everything."
Another katsinam, purchased in memory of the French-American pop singer Joe Dassin, will also be returned to the Hopi.