The New York Times says that Native American artifact sales are booming because the US doesn’t have the kinds of cultural protections that quell the sells of other country’s cultural patrimonies. The issue arises as another Parisian sale is causing a furor. Last week it was the Mexican government upset by a sale in Paris. This week, it’s Hopi Indians angry about their sacred objects trading hands abroad:
“Right now there just aren’t any prohibitions against this kind of large foreign sale,” said Jack F. Trope, executive director of the Association on American Indian Affairs, which is seeking new laws and treaties that would give the United States more force to intervene. “The leverage for international repatriation just isn’t there.” […]
When a nation like Italy or Cambodia claims ownership of an object in the United States, it typically invokes international accords that require American officials to take up the cases. […]The United States does not have similar accords that it could cite in support of the Hopi claim on the Paris auction items. Several experts and activists said the United States had never viewed its own cultural patrimony as a priority because the country is relatively young, has long embraced the concept of free trade and has not historically focused on the cultural heritage issues of American Indians.
Hopi Tribe Wants to Stop Paris Sale of Artifacts (New York Times)