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Heinrich urges halt to selling of Native American artifacts

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U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., is urging the U.S. State Department to take all possible action to help repatriate stolen cultural items to Native American tribes.

In the United States, it is illegal to sell ceremonial Native American items. However, in France, where an auction of the items is planned for May 30, it is not.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Heinrich wrote, “The United States must do everything in its power to ensure that priceless Native American cultural artifacts are returned to the rightful homes instead of being sold off to the highest bidder.”

The Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico has identified a shield as cultural patrimony — objects having ongoing historical, traditional or cultural importance central to the Native American group or culture itself and are illegal to sell — that is set for auction in France.

“The Pueblo has previously been unable to halt foreign auction of their cultural patrimony, which has resulted in profound damage to the Pueblo’s control over their own sacred objects. I urge you to work with your French counterparts to halt the auction before more of the Pueblo’s cultural history is sold off into private collections,” Heinrich wrote.

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