Nonprofit Quarterly Article on French Auction of Native Artifacts

Link to “Native Americans Protest Sale of Artifacts” by Alexis Buchanan here.


Perhaps auction houses would not be so unwavering in the sale of these items if they did not fetch such high prices. The Guardian reports that France has a long history, tied to its colonial past in Africa, of collecting and selling tribal artifacts. The Paris-based “Indianist” movement in the 1960s celebrated indigenous cultures, and interest in tribal art in Paris was revived in the early 2000s following the highly lucrative sales in Paris of tribal art owned by late collectors André Breton and Robert Lebel. As such, many of these items have high value. The Hopi Tutuveni reported that in April 2013, the Néret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou auction house in Paris generated $1.2 million as 70 Hopi religious objects went for an average of $17,143, with one object created around 1880 fetching $209,000. In Monday’s protested sale, Yahoo News reported that twelve sacred Kachina masks went under the hammer for 116,000 euros ($129,000)—with the most precious, the Crow Mother, going for 38,000 euros ($42,300)—about a third less than expected, but still a high value.

About Sarah M Donnelly

Program Coordinator for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law.
This entry was posted in Author: Sarah Donnelly, cultural resources, NAGPRA, News. Bookmark the permalink.

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