ATADA’s position regarding the
“Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act (STOP Act)”
ATADA asks its members and supporters to write letters and/or send emails or faxes about the proposed bills, S. 3127, and H. 5854, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act (STOP Act) to their own senators and representatives and to members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
ATADA is committed to working with all tribes regarding patrimonial objects. We are currently discussing the law and working to build bridges between tribal communities, tribal artists, art dealers and collectors. However, ATADA has identified many serious issues with S. 3127.
- The STOP Act is unnecessary because export for sale of unlawfully acquired artifacts is already illegal under ARPA and NAGPRA.
- The STOP Act does not identify the objects each tribe considers sacred or community owned.
- The STOP Act creates no administrative body or standards for determination of what is claimed.
- The STOP Act will damage businesses, cost jobs, and reduce tax revenue.
- While voluntary donation of important sacred objects should be encouraged, tribal legal claims for restitution of unlawfully possessed objects belong in the courts, not in wholesale restitutions.
- The STOP Act will result in consumer confusion and harm Native artisans and legitimate businesses because of the assumption that all Indian artifacts are tainted by illegality.
- The STOP Act needs additional consultation with tribes and with other impacted US stakeholders, including collectors, dealers, academics, and museums.
A complete summary of these issues can be found in our Summary of Issues - STOP Act.
Use the buttons below to download complete copies of Senate Bill 3127 and House Bill 5854, which is identical to the Senate bill.
We have compiled a list of Senators and Representatives on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairsand the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
Tips for writing a great letter to a legislator:
- State that your letter is about Senate Bill 3127 / House Bill 5854, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP Act).
- Say who you are. Anonymous letters go nowhere. Include your correct name, address, phone number and email address. Otherwise, you will not get attention or a response.
- State any professional credentials or personal experience you may have, and how long you have been involved in the Native American art field.
- Keep your letter short — one page is best.
- Use specific examples to support your position.
- State what it is you want done – don’t pass the STOP Act, or fix the STOP Act so it does not damage important American values and harm US collectors, art dealers, Native artists, and museums. Express your own feelings about the STOP Act.
- Thank the member for taking the time to read your letter. NEVER be rude or aggressive.
Please note: This linked list of Senators and Representatives on the Senate and House Indian Affairs Committees has the webpages for sending emails as well. These email links almost always require you to be a resident of the state or district of the senator or representative. However, you can send a letter via mail to any senator or representative. It shows that you (and probably many others who do not bother to write) really care!
Here is a sample letter to a US Senator. Please make your letter your own by personalizing it and including the issues that are most important to you. You can add from the issues mentioned above or outlined in the above referenced Summary of Issues - Stop Act.
An editable copy of the letter (MS Word format) is available for download by clicking the button.
••• Sample Text •••
The Honorable _______________
(Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
My name is ________. I live in _________. I am interested in Native American art because _________.
I am deeply concerned that Senate Bill 3127 / House Bill 5854, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP Act) will harm ________ (For example, collectors, art dealers, Native artists, museums, or educational institutions) and the public interest.
I believe that the STOP Act is not necessary; US laws already prohibit illegal trafficking in Native American artifacts. The STOP Act does not identify the objects each tribe considers sacred or community owned. There are hundreds of thousands of items of Native art that have circulated in the market for decades. It is impossible for owners of objects collected over many years to know what is deemed a cultural object by each tribe, or to know which tribe might claim an object. The law does not create any system for determining if an artifact is safe to sell. Yet the penalties for selling an object claimed as cultural property are very high!
The STOP Act will require a huge bureaucracy to identify this volume of material, almost all of which came from ordinary trade. The STOP Act will damage businesses, cost jobs, and reduce tax revenue, especially in the Southwest, where art and tourism are important to municipalities and to Native artisans. The STOP Act is unworkable, impractical and ill-considered.
Thank you for your attention to my letter.
(Your Name, Address, and Telephone)
Below is a list of sponsoring Senators (four of these also serve on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee).
Senator Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
303 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Senator Jeff Flake, Arizona
413 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Senator John McCain, Arizona
218 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510