Target: Alain Leroy, head of EVE Auction House
Goal: Demand the return of precious Native American artifacts from French auction house.
French auction house EVE has generated widespread outrage after putting an array of Native American artifacts up for auction. The auction includes not only decorative items, but ceremonial ones as well — a ceremonial jacket, masks, and a ceremonial shield are included in the slate of items to be sold. Though the sale of indigenous ceremonial items is prohibited by law in the United States, these limitations do not apply to the Parisian auction house. American Indian tribal leaders and activists are calling for the return of these sacred items to their rightful owners — their people of origin.
Convening at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., indigenous tribal leaders strategized methods for stopping the auction of the stolen ceremonial objects. Calling for the immediate return of the priceless cultural items, the tribal leaders spoke out against the auction house’s egregious attempt to profit off of cultural genocide. A hashtag, #StopTheParisAuction, began trending on Twitter as others added their voices to the swelling outcry.
There is deep historical context to this situation. Indigenous people have endured a legacy of theft — theft of land, of lives, and of cultural identity. The sacred indigenous items being sold by EVE Auction House were either taken from Native Americans or sold out of desperate poverty, itself a symptom of the violence of colonialism. The EVE Auction House’s attempt to profit off of sacred Native American objects is part of this legacy of theft. Demand that EVE Auction House return these items into the hands of the tribes who own them.
Dear Mr. Leroy,
It is deeply offensive and hurtful that you would attempt to put Native American ceremonial items up for auction. We recognize that you are, unfortunately, not legally forbidden to sell Native American ceremonial items, but we hope that you will observe the laws of common decency and return these items to their tribes of origin. These artifacts hold deep spiritual significance to their people of origin, a people that still exist despite centuries of colonialism and cultural genocide.
Many things have been stolen from Native American people: land, lives, elements of cultural identity, more than could ever be listed here. Whether they were taken or sold as a result of poverty and desperation, the fact that these sacred indigenous items ended up in the hands of a French auction house which will now attempt to profit from them is a part of this shameful legacy of colonialism. We, the undersigned, demand that you return these important cultural artifacts to their rightful owners.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dschwen