Legal Committee Report - January 2019


Thank you for making ATADA the premier tribal art organization in the U.S.! We need your continued support to protect you, your business, and your collections in 2019. Here is just some of what we accomplished in 2018, thanks to you! 

  • We halted passage of STOP, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act, S. 1400, for the 2018 legislative session. STOP made it official U.S government policy to encourage the return to tribes of all “significant objects, resources, patrimony, or other items… affiliated with a Native American Culture,” including jewelry, ceramics and other legal possessions. 

  • The ATADA Board met in person with 8 legislative offices to show them how STOP discourages all trade in Indian art, will destroy value in legally-owned private property, and lacks due process, making it illegal to export objects without identifying what those objects are. STOP is expected to resurface early in 2019; we’ll coordinate with the Association of Art Museum Directors and others to work against this harmful legislation.

  • We worked together with tribes on alternative proposed legislation, the Native American and Native Hawaiian Cultural Heritage Protection Act of 2018, H.R. 7075, to ensure that unlawfully obtained objects do not leave the U.S., and that the rights of art collectors and dealers are preserved against expansion of NAGPRA.

  • We fought passage of H.R. 5886, the Illicit Art and Antiquities Trafficking Prevention Act, that would have forced burdensome, expensive, and privacy-destroying Bank Secrecy Act anti-money laundering rules on every single art and antique dealer in the U.S. who sells $50,000 of goods a year. This legislation, backed by anti-art trade extremists, will be reintroduced in 2019 with support from law enforcement, who admit there is no U.S. money laundering through art, but want to have additional charges to add in cultural property cases.

  • ATADA submitted testimony to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee at the Department of State on five proposed agreements and renewals to halt imports of ethnographic art from Central America and the Middle East, partnering with Jewish and Christian minority organizations whose property is claimed and cemeteries are being desecrated.

  • Our Voluntary Returns Program led the way in educating the public and bringing important ceremonial objects to tribes for current religious practices, benefitting tribal communities and building bridges for all.

  • We partnered with U.S. and international organizations to multiply the effect of our policy initiatives: Global Heritage Alliance, numismatic groups, and CINOA testified with us on key legislation.

ATADA’s work kept bad legislation from passing. We worked with tribes to bring better legislation forward.  But we face new tests and trials in 2019. A 2019 STOP and renewed anti-money laundering legislation are certain to be re-introduced. 

New dangers loom. The Association on American Indian Affairs has stated that Indian artifacts in museum collections “are not art,” but cultural patrimony. They want tribal approval of sales of antiques. This undermines protections under NAGPRA and extends claims to the private sector. Public education and legislative action will be more important than ever in 2019.

ATADA is working to keep you and your collections safe from government overreach. We’ve done great work but our resources are exhausted, and we need your help to meet the challenges that we KNOW are coming.

You can make that difference right now!

Please contribute today!
Make your check payable to the ATADA Legal Fund and mail to:

David Ezziddine
Executive Director, ATADA
PO Box 157
Marylhurst, OR 97036

Questions? Contact David at
Visit to learn more about ATADA actions.

ATADA is a 501(c)(4) organization; gifts to ATADA and the ATADA legal fund are not tax deductible.

ATADA’s tax status enables it to work directly in Washington and elsewhere to make real change for your benefit.