The Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico is praising the signing of the STOP Act by President Joe Biden.
On Wednesday, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act became law after being passed by the Senate in November.
It prohibits the exporting of sacred Native American items, and increases penalties for stealing and illegally trafficking tribal cultural patrimony.
According to U.S. lawmakers, it will help prevent instances like the auction of the Pueblo of Acoma’s shield.
In 2015, the Pueblo sought the return of the shield from an auction house in Paris. The item had been stolen from the Pueblo decades earlier.
Items are sacred to the Pueblo and are not to be given away or sold. Items have been removed from Pueblo homelands for years, and put up in auction houses and on the internet for sale. They’ve also been in art galleries.
Pueblo of Acoma Governor Randall Vicente says the signing of the law is a historic moment. He says there have been moments in history when Congress has taken action against Native people, but this is a time to celebrate.
The 18 other Pueblos in New Mexico also urged for the bill’s passage, along with the state’s Apache Nations, the Navajo Nation, and other tribes across the country.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the bill in 2016 and championed it in the Senate with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
The House passage of the bill was in December 2021, and led by U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM), along with U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (Chickasaw/R-OK) and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk/D-KS).
The bill was also championed by the late U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) – and had help from many other U.S. lawmakers over the years.
Researchers have been puzzled by colorectal cancer rates for Alaska Native people.
For the elderly, the trend has been going down.
But for young adults, the number of cases has gone up by about five percent a year since 1996.
There’s one possible explanation. Older Alaska Native people seem to have more frequent and thorough screenings.
Diana Redwood, an epidemiologist for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, says it’s important to turn this around for young adults.
“The Alaska Native Medical Center issued guidelines for Alaska Native people to start screening at age 40, and this is actually lower than the recommendation for all Americans, which is to start screening at age 45.”
Redwood says colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for Alaska Natives, who are diagnosed at a rate two times higher than the white population in the United States.
On top of that, Alaska Natives have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer in the world. Although the cancer is still more common among the elderly.
Redwood says, despite the increase in early onset colorectal cancer, it’s not health care workers expect to see.
“If they do have somebody come in, who is younger, and they’ve had abdominal pain and weight loss, that they don’t rule out colorectal cancer as a possibility.”
Aside from pain and unexplained weight loss, other signs of colorectal cancer are blood in the stool, diarrhea, and constipation that lasts for several days. Redwood says sometimes there are no signs, which makes screening all the more important.
Researchers don’t know why the rate for young Alaska Natives continues to rise, but suspect lifestyle changes are a factor.
They say reducing smoking, drinking, eating a healthy diet, and getting more exercise can lower the risk.
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