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Chair Grijalva Hails Passage of Bipartisan Package of Bills for Indian Country, Including Long-Awaited STOP Act

12.10.21

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) issued the following statement today on the bipartisan package of bills the House of Representatives approved in a series of votes over the last two weeks to address longstanding issues in Indian Country, including tribal cultural patrimony, the federal land into trust, and management of buffalo (also known as bison) on tribal lands.

The package includes a bill by Chair Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States called the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021, or STOP Act. The bill increases penalties for trafficking tribal cultural patrimony, explicitly prohibits the export of such objects, and establishes federal frameworks to assist in the repatriation of stolen tribal objects between federal agencies and tribal governments.

The United States is a signatory to an international treaty that enables the federal government to support the repatriation of other countries’ tribal objects, but does not have the same statutory mechanism to protect tribes domestically. As a result, Native American cultural items like human remains, sacred objects and other tools have been looted around the United States and sold to collectors around the world.

“I’m pleased that Democrats and Republicans made bipartisan efforts to address these important issues, especially throughout Native American Heritage Month,” Grijalva said. “Protecting the history, dignity and lands of the First Americans should not be a partisan issue. I thank my Republican colleagues who worked with us to pass these bills, and I look forward to President Biden signing them into law.”

Other bills the House passed with bipartisan support over the past week include Rep. Betty McCollum’s (D-Minn.) bill to address the Carcieri decision by authorizing the U.S. Department of the Interior to take land into trust for all federally recognized tribal governments regardless of the date they received federal recognition; Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) bill to promote tribal ownership of buffalo (also known as bison) on tribal lands; and Rep. Raul Ruiz’s (D-Calif.) bill to bring land into trust for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

All of the bills (whose text can be found in links below) passed with substantial bipartisan support.

  • H.R. 4352 (Rep. McCollum), to amend the Act of June 18, 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes, will authorize the U.S. Department of the Interior to take land into trust for all federally recognized tribal governments regardless of the date they received federal recognition.
  • H.R. 2930 (Rep. Leger Fernández), the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021, will establish federal frameworks for assisting in the repatriation of tribal cultural patrimony to tribal governments and prohibit the trafficking of such items through increases in criminal penalties.
  • H.R. 897 (Rep. Ruiz), Agua Caliente Land Exchange Fee to Trust Confirmation Act, will transfer approximately 2,560 acres of land in California into trust for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for cultural and historical preservation purposes.
  • H.R. 2074 (Rep. Young), Indian Buffalo Management Act, will establish a permanent program within the U.S. Department of the Interior to develop and promote tribal ownership and management of buffalo and buffalo habitats on tribal lands.

Press Contact

Media Contact: David Shen

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