Special shipping steps taken as sacred objects make their way home to Arizona tribes

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By FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Two dozen tribal ceremonial items purchased last year at auction in France are set to return to Arizona.

A U.S. charitable foundation paid $530,000 for the hoods and ornate masks to give them to the Hopi and two Apache tribes, which use them to invoke ancestral spirits in ceremonies.

Sending the items back is no simple task. Each of them is considered a living being, and the expectation is they will be treated as such.

The Annenberg Foundation says it's complying with the tribes' requests to face the items in the direction of the rising sun, give them space to breathe and talk them through the journey, for example.

The belief is that their return promotes healing and harmony.

The foundation bought the masks in December at a contested auction in Paris.

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