Today, I had the honor of meeting with Chairman E. Paul Torres of the All Pueblo Council of Governors and Governors Kurt Riley of Acoma Pueblo and J. Michael Chavarria of Santa Clara Pueblo, and Former Governor Mark Mitchell of the Pueblo of Tesuque to discuss legislation I am fighting to pass in the Senate to protect precious cultural heritage for New Mexico's Pueblos.
PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich meets with Pueblo leaders, from left to right: Chairman E. Paul Torres of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, Former Governor Mark Mitchell of the Pueblo of Tesuque, Governor J. Michael Chavarria of Santa Clara Pueblo, and Governor Kurt Riley of Acoma Pueblo, September 25, 2018.
Earlier this year, my bipartisan bill, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act passed unanimously in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The STOP Act would prohibit the exporting of sacred Native American items and increase penalties for stealing and illegally trafficking tribal cultural patrimony. I am proud that the STOP Act has received broad, bipartisan support and is continuing to build momentum toward final passage.
I originally introduced the STOP Act after working with Governor Riley to halt the auction in Paris of a Pueblo of Acoma ceremonial shield that had been stolen. In the current session of Congress, I reintroduced the STOP Act alongside students from the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute's Summer Policy Academy when they came to visit my office in Washington, D.C. Hearing their personal stories about the importance of their traditional culture made me even more dedicated to getting this bill over the finish line.
During our meeting today, we also discussed why we must defend national monuments that are home to sacred sites for our Pueblos--like Rio Grande del Norte and Bears Ears--and my legislation to protect the landscape nearest to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park from federal mineral development. Chaco Canyon is sacred land that is revered by New Mexicans and deserves to be protected from any harmful development that would damage its precious historical and cultural resources.
Despite all the chaos in Washington these days, I remain focused on delivering on what is important to New Mexico. That includes working with the Pueblos to protect their cultural heritage. Please stay in touch about this and other issues that are important to you and your community.
United States Senator