Law for repatriation of Native objects nears Biden’s signature

Arrowheads and beadwork are some of the repatriated sacred artifacts now on display at the Fort Peck Cultural Resource Department in Poplar. Director Dyan Youpee said the blue and white bead symbols symbolize feathers.


A bill requiring the repatriation of Native cultural objects has passed the U.S. House and Senate and is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act “prohibits the exportation of Native American cultural items and archaeological resources that were illegally obtained; provides for the return of such items, … and establishes and increases related criminal penalties.”

Specifically, the bill increases the maximum prison term — from five years to 10 years — for someone convicted of selling, buying or transporting human remains or cultural objects that were illegally obtained.

The bill also requires the Interior Department and State Department to arrange for the voluntary return of human remains and sacred items.

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