Law | National | Politics | World

Bill to protect tribal cultural property gains steam on Capitol Hill






A ceremonial shield stolen from Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico is the subject of a legal and diplomatic battle after it was put up for sale by a private auction house in France. Image from EVE Auction House

Efforts to protect tribal cultural property are moving forward on Capitol Hill.

The House is set to consider H.Con.Res.122, the PROTECT Patrimony Resolution, this week. According to the House Majority Leader's schedule, the measure will be considered under a suspension of the rules, a process reserved for non-controversial bills that are expected to pass with near-unanimous support.

"This is really a very large effort ... to simply say we can do better in the world and do better in this country," Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico), the sponsor of H.Con.Res.122, said in May.

The Protection of the Right of Tribes to Stop the Export of Cultural and Traditional Patrimony Resolution condemns the sale, transfer and export of tribal property. It calls on the federal government to work with tribes and spiritual leaders to come up with ways to stop the practice and repatriate items back to their rightful owners.

A companion measure, S.Con.Res.49, is also moving forward in the Senate. It was approved by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on September 7.

"These items are not pieces of art -- they are sacred objects, deeply important for tribal identity and we need to put a stop to the trafficking of these objects," Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), the sponsor of S.Con.Res.49, said at the business meeting.

The legislative efforts are being discussed at the Indigenous International Repatriation Conference, hosted by the Association on American Indian Affairs, next week.

Related Stories:
Association on American Indian Affairs hosts repatriation conference (09/14)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules business meeting (09/02)
Judge grants warrant for sacred shield stolen from Acoma Pueblo (09/01)
Federal authorities file warrant for shield stolen from Acoma Pueblo (08/02)
Cronkite News: Sen. McCain signs onto bill to stop export of tribal property (07/11)
Tribes support bill in Senate to stop the export of cultural property (07/06)
Lawmakers set to take up funding bill for Indian Country programs (7/5)
Acoma Pueblo waits on France to return stolen ceremonial shield (06/22)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes fail to stop auction of warrior shirt (06/08)
Editorial: Acoma Pueblo needs justice for theft of sacred property (06/06)
Auction of tribal property goes ahead in France amid opposition (06/01)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Tribes meet to discuss sale of ancestors and property in France (5/24)
Secretary Jewell addresses auctions of tribal property in France (12/04)
Auction house in France sells sacred tribal property for $450K (06/10)
Hopi Tribe and Acoma Pueblo seek to block sale of sacred items (06/09)
Hopi Tribe trying to stop yet another auction of sacred property (06/02)
Hopi Tribe seeks to prevent auction of sacred property in France (05/27)
Leader of Hopi Tribe sues over sales of sacred items in France (04/10)
Navajo Nation buys sacred masks from auction house in France (12/15)
Annenberg Foundation acquires sacred items for Alaska Natives (09/03)
Opinion: Auction of tribal property in France sets bad precedent (07/25)
Auction house in France goes ahead with sale of tribal property (06/30)
Sacred property being returned to tribes in Arizona after auction (02/20)