Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Acoma Gov. to France: Stop Artifact Auction Sale

Sale of 'Acoma Shield' Set for Monday in Paris

BY DAN VUKELICH The governor of Acoma Pueblo called on the United States and France to work to halt the planned sale of Acoma cultural items by a French auction house next Monday. In an emotional plea, Gov. Kurt Riley said an important item referred to as “The Acoma Shield” is being put up for sale by the Eve Auction House in Paris as part of a catalogue of hundreds of Aconoma, Hopi, Navajo and Hoopa Tribe artifacts. At a news conference at the Smithsonian Institution, Riley said the sale of the shield, which he said should have never left the Pueblo, is painful. “I call on the Eve Auction House to immediately cease the sale of the Acoma Shield and all other items of cultural patrimony,” Riley said. “I implore the Republic of France to take immediate forceful action to prevent this deplorable action.” The shield is listed for auction at between 5,000 and 7,000 Euros, or $5,600 to $7,800.

Legislation to stop export of items of Native American Patrimony

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of Southern New Mexico has introduced a bill to curb the export of Native American religious and cultural artifacts, and he has been involved with a multi-agency effort to persuade the French to stop the practice within their borders. Pearce said the French “have not been terribly sensitive to our request” that the Eve auction be stopped. Riley, accompanied by Acoma clan leader Conroy Chino, a former Albuquerque TV journalist, sought to speak directly to the French people. “We are appealing to the people of France and to the French authorities to honor our humanity and the value of our ancient traditional beliefs by stop[ping the sale and returning this item,” he said. “When these items leave our Pueblo, this is how much it hurts,” Riley said, choking up. “For a person in my position to speak and express my emotions this way is maybe in some eyes not a role model for males, but this is how much it hurts my people when we see these cultural items put up for sale.” Last year, he said, 24 culturally important items from Acoma Pueblo were put up in auction in 10 sales. Former Bureau of Indian Affairs director Kevin Gover of Albuquerque, now with the National Museum of the American Indian,  said that since 1989, under U.S. law, all museums that receive federal funds are legally bound to return items of Native American patrimony and human remains to their tribes. A webcast of the event at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian can be seen here.

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