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French judge could block sale of Hopi 'sacred objects'

PHOENIX -- A Paris judge will decide Thursday whether to block the sale of 70 "sacred objects" of Hopi origin by a French auction house.

The sacred objects date back to the 1930s. At least one of the objects was likely stolen by a French citizen who was visiting the Hopi Tribe. Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa said the objects are central to the spirituality of the Hopi and putting a price tag on them is beyond offensive.

"When somebody asked if we would go bid on these articles, we said this isn't how we do things," he said. "These have no pricetag for our beliefs."

About 18,000 members of the Hopi Tribe live in northern Arizona and this is where the sacred objects belong, according to Shingoitewa.

"What is being viewed as auction in France is sacrilege to what the Hopi belief is and this is very disturbing."

The Hopi prefer to call the items "sacred objects" because terms such as "artifact" as considered highly offensive.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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