WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) released the following statement on the planned return of the Acoma Shield from Paris to the Pueblo of Acoma. Udall chaired a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on the illegal trade of tribal cultural items in Albuquerque in October 2016, and Udall’s Protection of the Right of Tribes to stop the Export of Cultural and Traditional (PROTECT) Patrimony Resolution passed Congress in December 2016. The resolution condemns the theft, illegal possession or sale, transfer, and export of Tribal cultural items and calls for several measures to be implemented to help identify and stop the illegal trafficking of Tribal cultural patrimony and secure repatriation of exported items to their rightful Native American owners. Udall is also a cosponsor of S. 2165, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act of 2019, sponsored by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), which would make it illegal to export items of cultural patrimony overseas to circumvent U.S. laws.
“The return of the Acoma shield is long overdue, but this is very welcome news nonetheless. I commend the Pueblo of Acoma for its dogged determination to secure the return of their sacred patrimony, and I have been proud to partner with Tribal leaders and government officials to help stop the sale of the Acoma shield and return it to its rightful owners. Items like the Acoma Shield are not pieces of art to be auctioned off to the highest bidder by parties who have no ties to their sacred significance. They are spiritual objects, deeply important for Tribal identity. I will continue working to pass legislation to put a stop to the theft, trafficking, and sale of Tribal cultural patrimony and sacred objects like the Acoma Shield.”