Legislation Introduced to Protect Cultural Objects

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has reintroduced legislation to prohibit the export of cultural objects and human remains obtained in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The “Safeguarding Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act,” or “STOP Act,” would also increase the criminal penalties for violations of NAGPRA.

“We all recognize the incredible beauty of American Indian art — from the remnants of ancient wonders that we can explore and admire in places like Chaco Canyon and the Gila Cliff Dwellings to the traditional and modern art masterpieces created by Native artists to this day,” Heinrich said in a statement. “But we can also recognize a clear difference between supporting tribal artists or collecting artifacts ethically and legally as opposed to dealing or exporting items that tribes have identified as essential and sacred pieces of their cultural heritage.”

S. 1400 is co-sponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Tom Udall (D-NM).

Heinrich introduced a similar bill in the last session of Congress, but it did not advance out of committee.