Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Alaska Congressman Don Young along with Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández of New Mexico has introduced the STOP Act, legislation that works to prohibit the exporting of sacred Native American items and increase penalties for stealing and illegally trafficking indigenous cultural property.
The legislation also aims to create a framework to support the voluntary return of sacred items, including a referral program to allow the Department of the Interior to assist individuals in finding a tribe with a cultural affiliation to the tribal cultural heritage they want to return.
Two working groups will be created, one to ensure coordination between federal agencies whose work involves protecting or facilitating repatriation of tribal cultural heritage, and another to establish a tribal working group to aid federal agencies whose work involves protecting or facilitating the repatriation of tribal cultural heritage.
President of Sealaska Heritage Institute Rosita Worl applauded the efforts of Lawmakers Young and Fernandez for working to protect indigenous cultures, and said "Returning sacred objects to tribes is critical to their cultural survival."
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