ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Latest on a planned auction in France of Native American sacred items (all times local):
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is asking French authorities to prevent the auction of a ceremonial shield from a New Mexico Native American community, saying the item was believed to have been stolen decades ago from its rightful owners.
In a letter Friday to the auction house regulator in France, Jewell detailed specific reasons why the Acoma Pueblo shield should be removed from Monday's planned sale in Paris.
The letter included an affidavit from the granddaughter of one of the tribe's traditional leaders who cared for the shield. She testified that the item went missing during the 1970s when the family's home was broken into.
Jewell's correspondence also included documents from the tribe's legal counsel and preservation officer attesting to the importance of the shield and its status under tribal customary law.
The Paris auction house criticized for putting up for bid objects held sacred by Native American tribes is defending its upcoming sale.
EVE auction house director Alain Leroy said Friday all the items are of legal trade in both the U.S. and France and that tribes will have an opportunity through the auction process to acquire their past.
Monday's planned auction will feature hundreds of religious items and art pieces from the Americas, Africa and Asia. Included is a ceremonial shield from a Native American tribe in New Mexico.
Acoma Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley argues it's illegal to trade and sell Native American items considered sacred or used in worship. He has reached out to the French people through an open letter in an effort to halt such auctions.