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Originally published Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:01 AM

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French hearing on contested Hopi artifacts auction

A French judge will decide Friday whether to let a Paris auction house sell dozens of items central to an Arizona tribe's religious practices.

The Associated Press

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PARIS —

A French judge will decide Friday whether to let a Paris auction house sell dozens of items central to an Arizona tribe's religious practices.

A lawyer for the Hopi Tribe and the association Survival International argued at a hearing Thursday against the auction of the kachina masks, urging the court to suspend it so that their origin can be determined.

The judge said a ruling will come down Friday midday, just before the sale is scheduled to begin.

The Hopi Tribe contends the items were stolen and has asked the auction house, Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou, to prove otherwise. The items are considered communal property of the Hopi Tribe.

The auction house's lawyer argued that the items are cultural artifacts that have been bought and sold several times.

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