Earlier this week, the Senate passed H.R. 2930, Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021. The legislation prohibits the exportation of Native American cultural items and archaeological resources that were illegally obtained; provides for the return of such items, including voluntary returns; and establishes and increases related criminal penalties. The bill also requires the Department of the Interior and the Department of State to each designate a liaison to facilitate and hold trainings and workshops on the voluntary return of human remains and cultural items.
Additionally, the Department of Interior must:
– refer individuals and organizations to Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to facilitate the voluntary return of human remains and cultural items;
– convene an interagency working group; and
– convene a Native working group consisting of representatives of Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to provide advice on issues concerning the return of, and illegal trade in, human remains and cultural items.
“For too long, the export and sale of sacred and culturally significant items from Native peoples in Hawaiʻi, Alaska, and across Indian Country has deprived these communities of their own history and heritage,” said Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Schatz (D-HI). “Our bill will help stop the black market trafficking of these items and bring them home.”
NAFOA, founded as the Native American Finance Officer’s Association, is initiating its search for a permanent executive director. This leadership position will be pivotal in advancing NAFOA’s mission of strengthening tribal finance and growing tribal economies.