Of all the possible consequences of the battle over who owns tribal artifacts up for sale, here’s the one to be least concerned about — whether the market for such items is going to suffer. Yet that’s just what some collectors are nattering over.

Recently, the Acoma Pueblo was successful in persuading a Paris auction house to take one of the pueblo’s sacred ceremonial shields out of an auction. For now, anyway. The EVE auction house pulled the shield the day of the sale, promising further investigation into its provenance. Pueblo leaders say it was taken from their land without permission and should be returned, so it can be used again as part of Acoma’s cycle of ceremonies.

That a powerful auction house stood down, even for a moment, is testimony to the combined efforts of U.S. lawmakers, other government officials and public opinion. New Mexico’s congressional delegation — including Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce — backed the pueblo’s right to regain its property.

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