A charity which bought 24 sacred Native American masks at a controversial Paris auction is to return them to the Hopi and Apache tribes in the US.

The US-based Annenberg Foundation said it had spent a total of $530,000 (£322,000; 385,000 euros) at the auction of masks and other artefacts.

Of the 24 masks, 21 will be given to the Hopi Nation in Arizona and three to the San Carlos Apache.

The auction of 70 similar artefacts in April caused an outcry.

The tribes had sought to block their sale and the US embassy had asked for the latest auction to be suspended.

These Hopi masks were auctioned on Monday 

But French judges rejected legal challenges to both auctions, finding that the artefacts had been acquired legally.

The auctioneers argue that blocking such sales would have implications for the trade in indigenous art, and could potentially force French museums to hand back collections they had bought.

A "Wakaskatsina" sacred mask of Arizona's Hopi tribe is seen in an April 5 photo in Paris. The United States has asked a Paris auction house to delay a controversial scheduled auction of 25 sacred objects from the Hopi and San Carlos Apache Native American tribes. 

On Monday, the Hopi and Apache masks, together with other items, raised $1.6m, the Associated Press reports.

Pierre Servan-Schreiber, the Hopis' French lawyer, bought one mask for 13,000 euros and also intended to return it to the tribe.
The Tumas Crow Mother was another Hopi mask put on sale. 

Responding to news of the Annenberg Foundation's purchase, Sam Tenakhongva, a Hopi cultural leader, said: "This is a great day for not only the Hopi people but for the international community as a whole.

"The Annenberg Foundation set an example today of how to do the right thing. Our hope is that this act sets an example for others that items of significant cultural and religious value can only be properly cared for by those vested with the proper knowledge and responsibility. They simply cannot be put up for sale."

Responses to "Buyer to return Hopi artefacts to Native Americans"

  1. Unknown says:

    Sam Tenakhongva, a Hopi cultural leader, said: "This is a great day for not only the Hopi people but for the international community as a whole.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thats good but why not all 24 mask returned to them, its their Tribal Mask. Its their History Artifacts they should have been given back a long time ago. Robbing the native american artifacts should be a crime, but they haven't paid for the tragedy they caused native american's period. Hopi, Apache were all family protect our History and artifacts. Suspend auction retrieve the artifacts bring them back to US.
    Stephen Apache

  3. Anonymous says:

    Three belong to the Apache, and twenty one of them belong to the Hopi, all twenty four are being returned.

  4. Ricky says:

    I'm grateful they are returning home: Thank You to who ever is responsible.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think the French are fooling themselves when they say such artifacts are acquired legally. Someone may of actually bought them from a dealer but that doesn't mean it was bought or given freely by the peoples they belong to. It is good to know at least some organizations care enough to do something about these scared articles.

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