Tag Archives: Navajo

Navajo Women Walk 1,000 Miles To Protest Pipeline

By Leigh Cuen | Vocativ, Posted 04/07/15

Since January, over 70 Navajo people have joined a prayer walk across the American Southwest protesting a fracking oil pipeline in New Mexico. The walk aims to galvanize Native American communities to demand more from oil companies that profit from the reservations’ natural resources.

The participants started with a crowdfunding campaign that raised almost $6,000 to support their year-long journey. Over the past few months, the Nihígáál Bee iina group has used digital media to share their spiritual traditions, connecting Navajo communities across the country.

They are chronicling their journey on a Facebook page: “Despite being at the forefront of energy extraction, our people do not see its benefits; approximately 25% of our people today live without electricity and running water on the Navajo Nation, while our economy functions at an unemployment rate of about 60%.”

The group calls this 1,000-mile protest their Journey for Existence, commemorating the 150th anniversary of “The Long Walk,” where thousands of Diné (Navajo people) were marched at gunpoint for hundreds of miles into Bosque Redondo, a concentration camp where they would stay for four years.

Sacred Native American artifacts sold in France at disputed auction

The Navajo masks (not pictured) were among dozens of Native American artefacts for auction in France

The Navajo masks (not pictured) were among dozens of Native American artefacts for auction in France

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

Some 250 sacred Native American, Eskimo and Colombian artifacts went under the hammer in France on Monday despite strong opposition from the Navajo and Hopi tribes.

The sale, organised by the Eve auction house, took place at the Hotel Drouot in central Paris and netted more than ($1.12 million), despite efforts by US government officials to stop it.

Members of the Navajo tribe purchased back seven sacred masks.

The masks, believed to have been used in healing ceremonies, were among dozens of Native American objects for sale.

The Navajo masks have been described by Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim as “living and breathing beings” which should not be sold commercially.

The auction also included the sale of several Pueblo masks adorned with horse hair and bone, as well as dozens of Hopi Kachina dolls. Some 20 dolls were sold.

Kachina dolls made by Hopi and Zuni Native American tribes are on display on the eve of their sale at the Drouot auction house in Paris on December 14, 2014 ©Thomas Samson (AFP)

Kachina dolls made by Hopi and Zuni Native American tribes are on display on the eve of their sale at the Drouot auction house in Paris on December 14, 2014 ©Thomas Samson (AFP)

While the sale of sacred Native American artifacts has been outlawed in the United States since 1990 – in the past legislation has allowed tribes to recover items held by American museums  –  the law does not extend to sales overseas.

Several Navajo officials travelled to France to purchase the items at auction, while a lawyer representing the Hopi tribe described the sale as sacrilegious.

“Hopis were opposed to buying back their artifacts as they did not want to engage in the auction,” Pierre Servan-Schreiber told the Associated Press news agency.

Navajo Nation spokesman Deswood Tome meanwhile argued it was up to tribal leaders in the future to determine how to handle the sale of sacred items outside the US.

“Buying these masks here today is a precedent that we’ve set,” he said.

It was the fourth time in two years that sacred masks from the Hopi tribe have been sold at auction in France.

Around 20 Hopi masks were sold, and efforts to name the buyers were not successful.

“We have no intention of divulging the name of the sellers or the buyers of the masks. That stays in the private domain,” Eve auctioneer Alain Leroy said ahead of the sale.

The Hopis’ lawyer said certain masks could have been “exported fraudulently to be sold in France”.

Native Americans try to block sale of ceremonial masks at auction in France

Lawyers for the Hopi tribe had asked for Paris auction to be cancelled on the grounds that the 70 masks must have been stolen from the tribe. Photo; April, 2013

Hopi masks displayed at Paris auction house in April, 2013

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

An auction on Monday of sacred masks and objects in France has stirred fresh anger among Native Americans, with representatives of the Navajo people travelling to Paris to try and halt the latest sale.

Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim is in Paris trying to spare tribal ceremonial items from auction.

Several masks believed to have been used in Navajo wintertime healing ceremonies that last nine days are scheduled to go up for auction. Jim, who also is a medicine man, traveled with other Navajo officials to determine the origin of the masks, tribal spokesman Deswood Tome said Friday.

The items that represent Navajo deities typically are disassembled after a ceremony and returned to the earth, Tome said.

A letter to the Eve auction house on Friday from Jane Hartley, the U.S. ambassador to France, called for the objects to be pulled from bidding while the Hopi and Navajo tribes “determine if they have recourse to seek their return.”

In addition to taking the items off the auction block, Hartley has asked Eve director Alain Leroy to encourage a dialogue between the sellers and the tribes that would lead to the objects’ return to the Navajo and Hopi.

The Eve auction house has 270 Native American, Eskimo and pre-Colombian artifacts going under the hammer.

Anthropomorphic statuettes from Mezcala, Mexico, are pictured among other artefacts made by Native American tribes on display before their sale at the Drouot auction house in Paris on December 14, 2014

Anthropomorphic statuettes from Mezcala, Mexico, are pictured among other artefacts made by Native American tribes on display before their sale at the Drouot auction house in Paris on December 14, 2014

All previous legal efforts to halt such auctions have failed, although last year, the Annenberg Foundation purchased 21 Hopi masks and three San Carlos Apache objects at auction for $530,000 “for the sole purpose of returning them to their rightful owner.

The sale of some 70 Hopi masks fetched around ($1.2 million) despite international appeals to halt the auction, decried as a sacrilege by activists including Hollywood legend Robert Redford.

A view of three Hopi masks from Arizona during a Paris auction of sacred objects from the Hopi and San Carlos Apache Native American tribes in December 2013. (Joel Saget / AFP/Getty Images)

A view of three Hopi masks from Arizona during a Paris auction of sacred objects from the Hopi and San Carlos Apache Native American tribes in December 2013.

The 18,000-strong Hopi tribe of Arizona uses the masks in highly-private religious ceremonies where they are worn by dancers.

Meanwhile the Hopi have identified over 40 sacred objects up for auction, according to diplomatic sources.

“Several representatives came to pray and gather in front of the objects on Saturday,” said Eve auctioneer Alain Leroy.

The Hopi tribe and the native peoples defence group Survival International asked a court on Friday to order the release of the sellers’ identities.

However the Board of Voluntary Sales “declared this auction legal,” said Leroy.

“We have no intention of divulging the name of the sellers or the buyers of the masks. That stays in the private domain.”

He said it was legal to own, collect and sell the colourful masks and statuettes. “This sale is not scandalous because it is not forbidden.”

While the sale of sacred Native American artifacts has been outlawed in the United States since 1990 – in the past legislation has allowed tribes to recover items held by American museums  –  the law does not extend to sales overseas.

Supporters of the tribes have found a costly, but effective way to get the items back: Buy them.

The Navajo delegation is authorized to try to negotiate a purchase ahead of the auction to keep the items out of private collections.

Brightly-coloured, intricate “Kachina” dolls and masks or headdresses are valued at thousands of euros.

Kachina dolls made by Hopi and Zuni Native American tribes are on display on the eve of their sale at the Drouot auction house in Paris on December 14, 2014 ©Thomas Samson (AFP)

Kachina dolls made by Hopi and Zuni Native American tribes are on display on the eve of their sale at the Drouot auction house in Paris on December 14, 2014

One of the jewels of the collection is a 40cm-high double mask resembling two bird’s heads stacked upon one another valued at up to 60,000 euros.

Images of the masks claimed by the Navajo were no longer available on the auction house website on the eve of the sale.