It is Disappointing to Have to Redeem Things that Belong to American Indians with Money

Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim addresses French media

Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim addresses French media


I love it when American Indians redeem what belongs to them. We have had so much taken from us. Actually, the right word I should have used is “stolen” from us.

So I was grateful Native News Online could report on the Navajo Nation’s Vice President Rex Lee Jim being successful in Paris in retrieving the Navajo sacred masks that were on auction there. He went there with a delegation late last week to bid on the masks at an auction. He spent more than $9,000 to get the masks back.

American Indian items can go for top dollar at an auction. For some strange reason there is a fascination with Native people’s belongings and bones.

Sadly, the same people who are willing to pay top dollar for the American Indian artifacts from the past at auctions could care less about the American Indians from the present who struggle to survive in third-world living conditions across Indian Country.

In essence, they love our stuff; they just don’t like or care about us.

I call it the “bones v. flesh & blood” syndrome, which means it is easier to care about relics of the past than it is to care about people alive today. I realize the Navajo masks bought this week are not bones, but my point should not be lost: Most Non-native people love our stuff, but don’t like us.

If you disagree, ask any agency director of any urban American Indian center in America about how difficult it is to keep the heat on during the winter months.  Urban American Indian agencies battle to justify their need to exist on an on-going basis to provide much needed services to their community members.

While I am glad Navajo Vice President Jim was successful in getting the Navajo masks back, I am disappointed money had to be spent on items that should have been given back to the Navajo Nation without paying for them.

The money would have been better spent on those Native people in real need.

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  1. Lena Toledo 3 years ago
  2. Sandi Billington 3 years ago
  3. Tom Zychowski 3 years ago