Hopi Tribe: Auction house in France is disrespecting us

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The Hopi Tribe wants the world to know how they're feeling about dozens of their sacred objects being auctioned off in France next week.

"The feeling is numbness. Why could somebody not really look at this whole picture and look at what they're doing," said Tribal Council Rep., Norman Honanie. "It is something that I thought in my lifetime that I would never see. I thought we had an understanding throughout this world that people really respect something."

The religious objects are so special that tribal leaders asked 3TV not to show them, and furthermore leaders would not go into detail what these objects are used for.

"In order to understand you have to be Hopi," said Hopi Council Rep. Arthur Batala.

We can show you replicas, also known as Kachina dolls, used for teaching.

According to the Hopi Tribe, the auction house in France crossed the line by posting pictures of the sacred items on the web.

"If we did that to French belief there would be demonstrations," said Tribal Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa. "Among our Hopi we are being hurt by what's being done. Inside of us the emotions that are there are upsetting and it makes us angry which is not a way of life."

Tribal leaders don't know how they're religious objects got to France or who currently owns them.

Leaders suspect the objects were stolen from them in the 1930s and 40s.

On top of sending a letter to the auction house on April 4, they've made phone calls requesting the auction be postponed, until they can investigate.

So far tribal leaders have not heard back.

"It’s obvious the French now is insensitive to our requests. They've been through it, they know how it feels to have their intellectual properties taken from them. We would like to have our sacred objects returned to the Hopi Tribe," said Hopi member Mervin Yoyetewa.

The auction is set for April 12.

3TV tried reaching out to the organizers of the auction house and we’ve not heard back.

Click here to read the Hopi Tribe's letter to the auction house.