"There was this idea that this was the last chance to see a Native American culture in its true form," he said.
Without any paper records, determining exactly where the items up for sale in Paris originated could be tricky. Men from the Hopi Tribe likely were the only ones to come into contact with the items because there are few, if any, women caretakers, and it was more common for people to talk about things that went on in the communities rather than write it down, Balenquah said.
Hopi villages and societies have a way of distinguishing items. If certain elders viewed the collection, they might have some identifying knowledge, Masayumptewa said.
The sale of such items isn't extraordinary, but the size of the collection to be auctioned in Paris and the age of the items is, Hopis say. The tribe has said it will not bid on the items if the auction is allowed to move forward.