The Latest: New Mexico tribe makes plea to French people

AP News
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Posted: May 26, 2016 5:11 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a planned auction of sacred Native American items in France (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

The leader of a Native American community in New Mexico is pleading with the French people to stand with his tribe in its fight to keep Paris auction houses from putting up for bid sacred objects.

Acoma Pueblo released the letter from tribal Gov. Kurt Riley on Thursday.

The letter comes as Paris' EVE auction house prepares to put up for bid hundreds of religious items and art pieces, including a ceremonial shield from the pueblo.

Riley says likened the sacred tribal items to objects found in churches, basilicas and other places of worship. He says they're so important that no one individual can own, sell or transfer them.

Riley also offered in the letter a brief history of his people, noting that the sacred items speak to civilizations that existed long before the arrival of the first Europeans in North America.

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2:30 p.m.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she's troubled by the auctioning off of objects held sacred by Native American tribes and she's calling on the French government to help find a path toward repatriating the items.

Jewell made the statement Thursday as Paris' EVE auction house prepares to put up for bid hundreds of religious items and art pieces from the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Included are a Plains war shirt made with hair from human scalps, sacred Hopi objects that resemble masks and a ceremonial shield from New Mexico's Acoma Pueblo.

Native American leaders have protested next week's planned auction and members of New Mexico's congressional delegation have voiced concerns.

Jewell has directed the Interior Department to work with tribes and other agencies to review the circumstances by which sacred objects and other important tribal patrimony are making their way into foreign markets.