From left, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Hopi Tribe Chairman Herman Honanie. Photo from Sen. McCain / Facebook
Arizona, New Mexico senators team up to prevent sale of tribal items
By Emily Zentner
Cronkite News cronkitenews.azpbs.org
WASHINGTON – Arizona and New Mexico lawmakers teamed up this week to sponsor a bipartisan bill that would prevent the auction of sacred tribal items.
S.3127, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act of 2016, sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, would tighten penalties for people trying to export these items for sale online or in foreign auction houses.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, announced Friday that he would sign on to the bill, joining Heinrich and Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Tom Udall, D-New Mexico.
“Many of the cultural artifacts that this bill would protect have a special, sacred connection to Native American people, as well as their history and heritage,” McCain said in a statement from his office.
Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Safeguard
Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act (STOP Act) Press Conference July 6,
The bill comes after the attempted sale last month of a sacred Acoma Pueblo shield by the EVE auction house in Paris – which is legal under current law if the seller can show that the item was obtained lawfully.
Acoma Pueblo argued that the shield had been stolen from a family in the tribe sometime in the 1970s. That temporarily halted the sale of the shield, pending an investigation into whether or not it was stolen from the tribe, but hundreds of other items were sold in the May auction.
The Acoma Pueblo, the Navajo Nation and several other tribes gave Heinrich’s bill their support at a news conference where it was introduced Wednesday.
Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates said the bill not only benefits the tribe now, but also “preserves our cultural wisdom and items to be utilized for generations to come.”
“The Navajo Nation has consistently sought to repatriate sacred objects, as well as protect our sacred sites, land, culture, language and way of life,” Bates said in his statement. “This legislation strengthens that position and allows tribes the confidence that their traditions and way of life are surely protected.”
YouTube: PRESS CONFERENCE: Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) Introduces Legislation To Prohibit Exporting Sacred Native American Items