Hopi Leader Reacts to Annenburg Buy

Click here for whole of the interview. Interesting excerpt below:

Do you think auction houses do these sales in France because they feel like they can get away with it there and they couldn’t here?

Going back to April, when we first started investigating and researching these types of sales, I came across numerous articles [about] people facing with the same challenge. Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, a lot of South American countries, even African nations. A lot of their items being put up for sale in the country of France. What I’ve come to recognize and realize is that they view things from a secular perspective where spiritual beliefs are oftentimes put to the side, especially if it’s not understood. Once something is transported or taken away from where it originated, it loses all sacred value. In this case if it went from one French citizen to another French citizen it’s seen merely as a transaction. We have to go back further and visit the origins of that. Were they given the authority? Was it a legal transaction? For the Hopi, it’s not. These sales are continuing to happen, some of them on a small scale, some of them on the scale of this one. The way that their courts and their laws are interpreted we have to understand that it is in another country. They have their sovereign rule, but it also has to be considered how other people around the world are viewing these things.

So would you call yourself an activist for your community?

I wouldn’t label myself as an activist. I’m a member of the tribe and I’m charged with certain cultural obligations and responsibilities and unfortunately this has become part of it, to protect what we deem valuable and culturally significant to us. In the Hopi perspective, I work for everybody. Not just for my people or my family, but for all humanity across the world. If something good can come from this and the work that we are doing for others, then it’s all the better.