An emergency meeting has taken place in Washington DC to try to prohibit an auction that involves sacred indigenous objects from taking place on 30 May.

According to Hyperallergic, on 24 May tribal leaders, US government representatives and NGO officials gathered yesterday at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American India to condemn the Art Amerindien, Art Precolombien, Afrique et Oceanie sale, organized by EVE (Estimations Ventes aux Enchères) auction house at Drouot Richelieu, Paris.

Many speakers called for better cultural protection in the US and abroad. Bradley Marshall of the Hoopa Valley Tribe in California explained that when “these objects are created for spiritual use within our community, a spirit goes into them. These objects are living beings to us, these objects are a part of our family, these objects are a part of who we are as a community.”

In a statement to Hyperallergic, Alain Leroy of Eve commented that “all the items proposed are of legal trade in the US and in France, and that “the public auction process allows the different tribes to acquire their past, and that is exactly what some tribes prefer to do, seeking efficiency and discretion.”

The Parisian auction house has been the subject of legal challenges in the past. In 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 lawsuits that attempted to stop the sale of sacred objects were overturned by the French courts on the grounds that the items were acquired by a French collector during his 30-year residence in the United States.