H. Con. Res. 122, PROTECT Patrimony Resolution, as amended

H.Con.Res. 122

PROTECT Patrimony Resolution, as amended

Committee
Judiciary

Date
September 21, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
John Wilson

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Wedneday, September 21, 2016, the House will consider H. Con. Res. 122, the PROTECT Patrimony Resolution, as amended, under suspension of the rules. H. Con. Res. 122 was introduced on March 2, 2016, by Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-NM) and was referred to the Judiciary Committee on March 2, 2016.

Bill Summary

H. Con. Res. 122 is resolved that the House of Representatives:

  • condemns the theft, unlawful possession or sale, transfer, and export of tribal cultural items;
  • calls upon the Secretaries of the Department of the Interior, the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to consult with tribes and traditional Native American religious leaders in addressing this important issue, to take affirmative action to stop these illegal practices, and to secure repatriation of tribal cultural items to tribes;
  • supports the development of clear restrictions on the export of tribal cultural items; and
  • encourages State and local governments and interested groups and organizations to work cooperatively in addressing and deterring the theft, unlawful possession or sale, transfer, and export of tribal cultural items and in securing the repatriation of tribal cultural items.

Background

Tribal cultural items are essential for tribal cultural preservation and the ongoing maintenance of many tribal ways of life in the United States. For American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians in the United States, the term tribal cultural item can encompass a variety of objects with intrinsic value, including: ancestral remains, funerary items, sacred objects, and other objects of cultural patrimony or memorial. These tribal cultural items all possess continuing historical, traditional, or cultural significance that are central to a Native American group’s way of life. Because the nature and description of tribal cultural items are so sensitive to these groups, they must be treated with care, respect, and confidentiality.[1]

However, criminals often sell and export tribal cultural items overseas with the intent of evading both Federal and tribal laws designed to protect tribal cultural property rights. Over time, the illegal sale and trade of these tribal cultural items on the black market has become more sophisticated, lucrative, and thus increasingly difficult for native tribes to either stop or seek repatriation for their home communities.[2]

In response, Federal agencies have been assigned with the responsibility of consulting with tribes to help stop the theft, unlawful possession or sale, transfer, and export of tribal cultural items. Additionally, many tribes and tribal organizations have passed their own resolutions as a means to further condemn, interdict, and seek repatriation for the illegal theft and sale of tribal cultural items. These resolutions, specifically, include[3]:

  • Resolutions SAC-12-008 and SD-15-075, passed by the National Congress of American Indians. These call for the United States Government to address international repatriation procedure and pursue affirmative actions to cease the illegal theft and sale of tribal cultural items both domestically and internationally.
  • Resolutions 2015-12 and 2015-13, passed by the All Pueblo Council of Governors, which represent all 20 Pueblo Indian tribes. These calls upon the United States Government to address international repatriation procedure and pursue affirmative actions to cease the illegal theft and sale of tribal cultural items both domestically and internationally.
  • Resolution 2015-007, passed by the United South and Eastern Tribes. This calls upon the United States government to support all means of repatriation of ancestral remains and other cultural items outside of the United States.
  • Resolution 12-07, passed by the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, which unites the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Muscogee, and Seminole Nations. This also calls upon the United States Government to help in immediate international repatriation efforts.

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[1] See HCR122_SUS.XML, at 2.
[2] Id, at 2-3.
[3] Id, at 3.

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is not available at this time.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Wilson with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1811.