Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Saved for Destruction?

While the vast majority of comments to Tom Mashberg's article about the Annenberg Foundation's purchase of Hopi artifacts from a French auction so they could be returned to the tribe were complimentary of the effort, as far as I could tell all ignored the fact that such artifacts will likely be buried or otherwise allowed to disintegrate:

"The Hopi have not identified their plans for these artifacts on their return, but they are not viewed as art objects or housed in museums. Typically, Katsinam are still used in spiritual ceremonies or are retired and left to disintegrate naturally." 

Under the circumstances, perhaps one should question the wisdom of the effort, particularly given information in one of the comments that such items were openly sold by some Hopi at least as recently as the 1970's.  Tribes seldom speak with one voice and one wonders whether at least some tribal members would have rather have had such money put to other use on the Reservation.  And there is a larger question:  Is repatriation ever warranted when it leads to destruction?

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