Return of Acoma Ceremonial Shield

Pictured: The Acoma Ceremonial Shield.(Screenshot: YouTube video "Acoma shield returned to New Mexico", Lisa J. Ellwood, Indian Country Today).

Press Pool

Shield remains in the custody of the United States Department of Justice pending dismissal of the pending action in federal court

News Release

Pueblo of Acoma

The Pueblo of Acoma is pleased to announce that the Acoma Shield is making its way home. It has arrived in New Mexico and will be returned to Acoma shortly. Traditional Pueblo leaders visited with the Shield while it remains in the custody of the United States Department of Justice pending dismissal of the pending action in federal court. Governor Brian D. Vallo expressed great appreciation for the action and cooperation of many parties: "Acoma has looked forward to this day for the last four years, steadfastly working with many people for this result. The Pueblo of Acoma is deeply grateful for the assistance of the many parties who have supported us in our efforts to reclaim the Acoma Shield.”

One of the most important parties is Mr. Jerold Collings whose family possessed the Acoma Shield for several decades, without knowing of its ceremonial importance to the Pueblo. Once the Pueblo informed Mr. Collings of the Shield’s importance to the Pueblo, he cooperated with Pueblo leadership to secure its return to Acoma. This cooperation was remarkable, in not only the dedication of both sides in returning the shield to its original home, but also due to the fact that, absent this cooperation, the Acoma Shield could have remained in a legal limbo, subject to France processing the warrant issued by the U.S. District Court in New Mexico. 

Acoma is also grateful to the United States Department of Justice, United States Attorney for New Mexico, John C. Anderson, his staff, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services, among others. It was through their work that Acoma leadership learned the identity of Mr. Collings and was able to work with him to secure the return the Shield 

Governor Vallo added: "The Pueblo of Acoma has waited years for the return of the Shield after successfully halting its sale at auction. The Shield is integral to the cultural sustainability of the Acoma people and is a significant item of our cultural patrimony. Its homecoming is critical and highly sensitive. With absolutely no intent to diminish the great effort of achieving this momentous return, we continue to ask the public for privacy as the Pueblo prepares to welcome the Shield home." 

Pueblo of Acoma seal, flag
(Image: Pueblo of Acoma)

Press Pool