Eliane Lacroix-Hopson championed advancement of indigenous peoples

Eliane A. Lacroix-Hopson was an engineer, author and longtime member of and public information officer for New York’s Spiritual Assembly. She worked through the United Nations for the rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas and the Romani in Europe, and organized support for the arts.

She passed away April 4, 2014, in her longtime home city of New York, New York. She was 96.

Born in 1917 in southern France and brought up as a Roman Catholic, Eliane was educated in Paris, where she lived through early adulthood. She worked as a petroleum engineer while in France, then in America as an electrical/nuclear engineer.

In Paris she was active in cultural organizations directed at increasing popular appreciation for fine and performing arts, principally supporting the influential Théâtre National Populaire.

After her second marriage, she moved with her husband to the United States in 1957. Eliane was introduced to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh by an American Indian couple in Tacoma, Washington, and accepted the Faith in 1962. At her friends’ invitation she participated in a Council Fire gathering at Neah Bay in 1963, and it was there that the Hand of the Cause Zikrullah Khadem encouraged her to work with American Indians.

She reflected later that a key element in her acceptance of the Bahá’í Faith was how the teachings “unit[e] religion, arts and science as parts of God’s creation.” Much of her activity in Tacoma and later in Los Angeles was focused on presenting Bahá’í teachings through artistic means.

After moving to New York in 1965, she developed her scholarship in the Bahá’í teachings on the arts and wrote articles that were published in Bahá’í magazines including World Order in the United States and La Pensée Bahá’í in Switzerland.

In 1977 she and her daughter, Marie-Danielle Samuel, organized the Newscope Cine Club and Cultural Workshop, whose activities were centered at the New York City Bahá’í Center. Starting with movie showings followed by discussions, often with actors or directors, the group’s activities soon branched into musical and theatrical performances, often involving American Indians — laying a foundation for decades of artistic activity at the Bahá’í Center.

A member of the Spiritual Assembly serving the city for a number of years in the 1980s, Eliane also served on its Display Committee, helping develop parade floats and displays promoting Bahá’í teachings for various conventions, exhibitions and other public events.

She was active speaking on the Faith in the United States and in Europe, frequent topics being the harmony of science and religion and the equality of women and men.

Eliane’s earlier years were highly influential in her advocacy for the human rights of two specific groups, which she carried on many years into her retirement from engineering.

Having been brought up near La Camargue, home of many Romas, she volunteered from the 1970s until 2000 as representative for the International Romani Union to the United Nations.

Honoring the people who had introduced her to the Bahá’í Faith, she was also a member of various Local Assembly committees concerned with relations between the Bahá’í community and Native Americans from the 1970s through the 1980s. She participated in area powwows, conducted cultural events, and facilitated Bahá’í involvement in the cross-country Longest Walk for indigenous awareness in 1978. She also was involved in efforts by a representative of the Hopi to present that nation’s prophecies at the United Nations, which came to fruition in 1992.  

In 1993 she, her daughter and Luis Delgado Hurtado co-founded Yachay Wasi, a UN-accredited organization that focuses on rights, sustainability and advancement for indigenous peoples in Peru. Eliane lent her writing and editing expertise to the organization’s newsletter. Through Yachay Wasi and on her own she continued to carry out related cultural and public awareness events.

She produced two books on Bahá’í topics: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in New York, the City of the Covenant in 1999, and Creation, Evolution and Eternity, A Bahá’í’s Perspective on Religion and Science in 2001.

Eliane Lacroix-Hopson’s survivors include her daughter, Marie-Danielle Samuel of New York; a grandson; and two great-grandsons.


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