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Museums join Hopi tribe to oppose Paris artifact sale

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Two museums in the southwestern US state of Arizona have joined an effort by Hopi cultural officials to halt the sale of sacred Hopi kachina artifacts at a Paris auction house next week.

In messages on social media, the Heard Museum and the Museum of Northern Arizona said the scheduled April 12 sale by Neret-Minet Tessier and Sarrou has triggered outrage within the indigenous Hopi community.

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On its website, the French auctioneers say it will be putting 70 kachina visages — mask-like representations of spirit characters used in Hopi ceremonies — on the block.

One of them is valued as high as 50,000 euros (more than $64,000).

Robert Bruenig, director of the Museum of Northern Arizona, appealed for the objects’ return to Arizona, in an open letter to the auctioneers posted on the Flagstaff institution’s Facebook page.

“The proposed sale of these katsina friends, and the international exposure of them, is causing outrage, sadness and stress among members of the affected tribes,” he said, using an alternative spelling for kachina.

“For them, katsina friends are living beings. … To be displayed disembodied in your catalog, and on the Internet, is sacrilegious and offensive,” he said.

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The Heard Museum in Phoenix, in a statement it posted on Facebook, said the “sale of items of significant religious and cultural importance to the Hopi tribe” was a matter of “extreme concern” for its American Indian staff.

Last month the director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, urged Neret-Minet to cancel the auction and “begin respectful discussions to return them back to the tribe.”

Kachina spirit figures are fundamental to the faith and heritage of the more than 18,000 members of the federally recognized Hopi tribe who mainly live in northeastern Arizona.

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The Arizona Republic newspaper said it was unclear when or how the items were acquired, but it noted that in past US cases, some artifacts have been secretly sold to collectors by tribe members for a profit.


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Arkansas church vows to continue services: ‘Jesus died with COVID-19 so that you didn’t have to bear it’

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An Arkansas church intends to hold church services despite recommendations from state officials to limit gatherings as part of the fight against the coronavirus.

Awaken Church, in Jonesboro, vowed in a Facebook post to continue holding services in defiance of a Health Department directive banning gatherings of 10 or more, and after churches in other parts of the country were the source of community outbreaks, reported Newsweek.

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2020 Election

Trump’s path to re-election ‘smashed to splinters’ as his only achievement is swallowed up by the pandemic: report

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In a piece for Politico, Ben White writes that Donald Trump was going into November's election with only one achievement under his belt -- a healthy economy -- and now he has nothing left to run if he wants to be re-elected.

With all of the gains made in the stock market long gone due to the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse of oil prices, White claims that the president's campaign strategy lies in tatters.

"The fundamental pillars of Donald Trump’s presidency — a hot economy, strong job growth and a rocking stock market — are all being smashed to splinters by the ravaging coronavirus, which has shuttered much of the nation and now officially ended a streak of 113 months of job gains dating back to the end of the Great Recession a decade ago," he wrote before noting the explosion of unemployment claims -- over ten million so far -- that has the country reeling.

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Strong signs that judges will increasingly decide how 2020 elections are run during the coronavirus pandemic

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The jaw-dropping conclusion of a federal court hearing on April 1 about Wisconsin’s statewide elections on April 7 was no April Fools’ joke. U.S. District Judge William Conley said the state’s Democratic governor and Republican-led legislature had failed to put their citizenry’s health first by not postponing the statewide election in a pandemic.

“There’s a hurricane coming!” Conley fumed from the bench, interrupting Douglas M. Poland, a lawyer representing the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and four citizens who sued the state. “You can’t even give me a case where a federal judge stopped a state from stupidly holding an election when most of the voters were not going to go to the polls because there’s a hurricane coming!”

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