The Hopi Tribe has filed suit in a French court to attempt to stop the Drouot auction house from selling 32 sacred tribal kachina masks. The Tribe attempted in April to halt a similar sale of 70 masks but a Paris court ruled that the sales were legal. The Tribe and its advocates argue that the masks represent ancestral spirits and cannot be treated like merchandise.
The Tribe considers the masks as communal property which have never belonged to anyone. The auction house say they belong to a private collector and are not stolen property.
The Paris court held a hearing on the lawsuit on Tuesday and a verdict is expected as early as today. Lets hope the Tribe prevails in this latest effort to protect its cultural patrimony.