Republican Member Wants to Raise Penalties For Disturbing Native American Sites
Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) introduced a bill in Congress last week that would increase fines for disturbing Native American historic sites. The bill would be an amendment to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. It proposes moving the office of enforcement for the act from U.S. Fish and Wildlife to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And it would increase penalties for disturbing Native American grave sites, specifically through higher fines. Rokita was moved to introduce the measure after archaeologists from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne excavated formal tribal sites without notifying tribal members. “No one is above the law, especially researchers and professors who rely on federal funding,” Rokita said. “It is imperative that we respect the rich history of the Native American culture, which is uniquely American, and give tribes and their deceased the respect they deserve.” Rokita also supported legislation to end employee protections for tribal casino workers earlier this year. The Associated Press reports the Republican Congressman saw a spike in campaign contributions of more than $160,000 from tribal gaming interests after he took up the bill. More here.