US lawmakers propose ban on export of tribes’ sacred items

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Democrats are making a renewed push in Congress to ban collectors and vendors from exporting Native American ceremonial items.

Sen Martin Heinrich, U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Deb Haaland, and others intend to reintroduce legislation Thursday that also would increase penalties for trafficking objects that tribes hold sacred.

The legislation follows a similar proposal from Heinrich in 2016.

It aimed to address what senators described as a loophole in federal law that officials say hampered efforts to have a Paris auction house return a ceremonial shield to Acoma Pueblo.

Lawmakers say U.S. law prohibits the trafficking of certain items domestically but does not explicitly ban dealers from exporting them.

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