Acoma Applauds Court Action by US Attorney
Published July 29, 2016
ACOMA PUEBLO – The Pueblo of Acoma, with federal assistance from the State Department, the Interior, and the Justice Department, successfully pressured the Eve Auction House in France to remove the Acoma Shield from the auction block. That was two months ago. However, since then, the shield has not been returned to the United States and now, is at risk of disappearing.
“The Pueblo of Acoma recently learned that the US Attorney’s Office here in New Mexico filed a complaint for forfeiture of the Acoma Shield. We are hopeful that the government of France honors this legal action by the United States and takes immediate forceful action to seize the Acoma Shield and return it to the United States and the Pueblo” said Acoma Governor Kurt Riley.
The Pueblo of Acoma is quickly preparing to file a claim in the case, United States v. Acoma Ceremonial Shield. Acoma stands ready to confront any legal challenges made by any person or entity seeking to undo the Pueblo of Acoma’s rightful claim to the Acoma Shield. In the meantime, the Pueblo is very concerned that if the French government ignores this latest legal action claiming the shield by both the US and the Pueblo, unscrupulous individuals may decide the shield is legally unprotected and seize the opportunity to take it underground.
“Unfortunately, if that happens, it may be a very long time before the Acoma shield finds its way back to the traditional homelands of the Pueblo. Our hope is that it will be retrieved and become repatriated so we can begin the healing process and have the shield used in its cultural context and for its intended purpose – namely to protect the Pueblo, its people, its traditions, and its lands from harm,” said Acoma Attorney Aaron Sims.
The efforts expended by the Pueblo of Acoma to protect sacred items come from its unrelenting concern for the wellbeing of its People, culture, and its spiritual practices. Time and time again, the Pueblo of Acoma has professed, at both the state and federal levels, that its traditional laws explicitly prohibit the sale or alienation of sacred items from the Pueblo of Acoma.
Because Acoma’s traditional laws do not legally extend into France, the Pueblo of Acoma is imploring the Eve Auction, the consigner of the Acoma Shield, and all person who may possess Acoma cultural patrimony to willing return our rightful sacred items to the Pueblo.
“Acoma will no longer tolerate the illegal trafficking of its sacred items, and will take all steps necessary to ensure their return. However, Acoma strongly encourages art dealers and collectors, to willingly come forward to return Acoma cultural patrimony. Acoma is grateful for the assistance and support of private sellers and collectors, who have already come forward in support of our efforts to protect what is sacred to us,” said Acoma Governor Riley.
For more information, please contact Acoma Tribal Secretary Jonathan Sims at (505) 552-6604