Almost a year after it was introduced by Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, a bill that seeks to protect Native American artifacts had a hearing before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
Heinrich promoted the bipartisan Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act before the panel on Wednesday. Fellow New Mexico Democrat Tom Udall is the committee’s vice chairman. The STOP Act was one of seven bills heard by the committee. The hearing was the first by the committee since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The STOP Act increases penalties for illegally trafficking tribal cultural patrimony, Heinrich said. Patrimony refers to objects possessing cultural, traditional, or historical importance to the heritage of a group.
It also prohibits the export of the objects and creates an export certification system, which the senator said would protect sacred objects under international law.