Saturday, 20 July 2019

US Lawmakers Apply Another Selective Approach to US Cultural Property

US lawmakers hope to ban exporting of Native American ceremonial items to foreign markets. The 'Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP)' Act, would also increase penalties within the US for trafficking objects that tribes hold sacred by increasing prison time from five years to 10 years for violating the law more than once (Mary Hudetz, 'U.S. lawmakers propose ban on export of tribes’ sacred items', Associated Press 19th July 2019).
A group of U.S. lawmakers made another push Thursday to ban collectors and vendors from exporting Native American ceremonial items to foreign markets, including Paris, where there has been uproar over auction houses listing tribal pieces for sale over the years.[...] The change was proposed by a group that includes Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Deb Haaland, D-N.M., Don Young, R-Alaska, and Tom Cole, R-Okla. In 2016, Heinrich blamed federal legal loopholes for stifling efforts to retrieve a ceremonial shield from a Paris auction house that year. “It is only right for other countries to respect ownership of the sacred treasures, artifacts and other items belonging to Native Americans,” Cole said Thursday. He and Haaland are among four Native American representatives in Congress. [...] U.S. law prohibits the trafficking of certain items domestically but does not explicitly ban dealers from exporting them, according to lawmakers.
If the principles of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property were properly applied in US law instead of the current facadist resolution (CCPIA), there would not be this problem. Collectors of course 'have expressed concern that the legislative efforts hurt the market for Native American artifacts'.

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