Target: Ms. Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the United States of America
Goal: Don’t allow the sale of Native American religious artifacts.
In a stunning show of insensitivity, a French auction house is preparing to sell several sacred artifacts of the Hopi people. The artifacts in question are a series of ceremonial mask-like spiritual objects, known as the Katsina Friends, used by the Hopi in religious ceremonies. These treasured items are collectively owned by the Hopi and are never even supposed to leave the reservation, let alone be sold at auction. Something must be done to stop this sale and protect the culture of the Hopi.
The auction house attempting to sell the Katsina Friends, Estimations Ventes aux Encheres, believes that the items belong to their respective collectors, not the native peoples who they were allegedly taken from. Sadly, after several court cases, it appears that the French Government agrees. France has no laws protecting indigenous peoples and thus believes this to be a purely legal sale.
In a last-ditch effort, members of the Hopi Tribe and the Arizona State Congress have sent letters to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking them to put pressure on the French to disallow the sale. Technically the U.S. has no legal authority to halt the sale, but the Department of Justice would be able to pressure the French Government to halt the sale due to a series of treaties.
This sale is downright offensive. For the French Government and a French auction house to believe it’s morally permissible to profit from stolen cultural artifacts is shocking and smacks of a time of Western Imperialism when cultures were stolen wholesale. Please sign here to demand that the Department of Justice attempt to halt this sale before these precious artifacts are lost to their true owners.
Dear Attorney General Lynch,
It has come to my attention that a French Auction house is attempting to sell a series of sacred Hopi artifacts for just over $1.2 million. This sale extremely distasteful and is nothing more than a fresh round of Western Imperialism, that is: stealing another’s culture and profiting from it.
Unfortunately, through several court cases and appeals, the French Government has not seen fit to halt this sale. I am writing to beg that you put pressure on the French to prevent the sale of these priceless sacred objects. It’s shocking that a nation so progressive as France would think that this sale is morally permissible, but France has few to no laws protecting indigenous peoples.
The United States has done more than enough harm to Native American cultures over the course of the last 300 years and this would be a wonderful opportunity to protect one of them. Please do all in your power to prevent the French Government from allowing this sale and to protect the native people of the country you serve.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Pierce, C.C.