- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - The Hopi Tribe is filing an action with a French agency to stop the auctioning of sacred Hopi objects.

The tribe contends the auction house is illegally selling spiritual objects known as “Katsina Friends” and is urging federal authorities to help recover them. The items resemble masks and are used during religious ceremonies and dances to invoke ancestral spirits. They are communally owned, rarely displayed and never supposed to leave the reservation.

The tribe released a statement Thursday about filing the action with the French board of auctions sales in conjunction with Acoma Pueblo Tribe and the Holocaust Art Restitution Project.

The tribe has sued three times in French court, but judges have dismissed the lawsuits because France lacks laws to protect indigenous people, unlike the U.S.

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