NAGPRA: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
Two different federal laws that mandate repatriation programs. This section is for programs administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior for activities carried out by museums and Federal agencies, excluding the Smithsonian Institution.
Click below for more information on the Smithsonian repatriation programs.
Repatriation activities of museums and Federal agencies, excluding the Smithsonian Institution, are governed by Public Law 101-301, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. National implementation of the program — including the promulgation of regulations, administration of the grants and civil penalties program, and provision of staff support to the Secretarial advisory review committee — have been delegated to the National Park Service’s National NAGPRA Program. Each museum and Federal agency, including individual park units, are responsible for complying with the statutory and regulatory requirements.
2017 NAGPRA TRAINING AT NATHPO CONFERENCE NATHPO is offering the pre-conference workshop, “NAGPRA and Repatriation — History, Current Practices, and Anticipated Developments,” on Monday, August 7, 2017, at the Pala Casino Spa Resort in Pala, California, as part of the 19th National Tribal Preservation Conference.
- Training Agenda
- Overview of Repatriation Laws
- Repatriation Disputes and Litigation
- 20 USC 80q
- 25 USC 3001 et seq
- 43 CFR 10
- 18 USC 1170
- In the Smaller Scope of Conscience 2013 NATHPO NAGPRA TRAINING, The United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) Tribal Historic Preservation Committee and NATHPO convened a two-day NAGPRA training October 28-29, 2013, at UAIC’s Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, California. THPOs, tribal government officials, state and museum agency representatives attended. The first day focused on basic NAGPRA training. The second day focused on current NAGPRA litigation and hands-on practice.
2010 NAGPRA TRAINING IN CONJUNCTION WITH 12TH NATIONAL TRIBAL PRESERVATION CONFERENCE On August 9, 2010, NATHPO offered a pre-conference, NAGPRA-related training session, “Using 43 CFR 10.11 to Return ‘Culturally Unidentifiable’ Native American Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects.” This one-day training focused on at the time the new regulatory section finalized on May 14, 2010, that requires the return of “culturally unidentifiable” Native American remains to Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. This training session was a follow-up to the 2009 workshop, “Using the Culturally Unidentifiable Native American Inventories Database.” This important database includes listings and information on over 124,000 individual Native Americans and almost one million associated funerary objects.
2021 NATHPO COMMENTS ON PROPOSED NAGPRA REGULATIONS RULEMAKING
In 2021, NATHPO reviewed the draft proposed revisions to the NAGPRA regulations that were released by NPS on July 9, 2021, and encouraged DOI to begin tribal consultation on the proposal in advance of a rulemaking. We thank DOI leadership for acknowledging this request and during the consultation period, shared both our own NATHPO comment letter and a template letter for tribal use. Of particular note was the Interior Department’s inquiry regarding organizational placement of the National NAGPRA Program. See NATHPO letter for full explanation.
2012 NATHPO COMMENTS ON PROPOSED NAGPRA REGULATIONS RULEMAKING
In 2012, NATHPO reviewed the proposed revisions to the NAGPRA regulations that were published in the Federal Register on April 18, 2012, and shared this information with THPOs and tribal representatives in a timely manner. Of particular note was the Interior Department’s change to the Authority section of the NAGPRA regulations even though the Federal Register notice states that the proposed rulemaking was limited to minor inaccuracies or inconsistencies. See NATHPO letter for full explanation.
2010 NAGPRA REGULATIONS FOR 43 CFR PART 10
NATHPO provided THPOs and tribal representatives an initial review of the publication of the 43 CFR Part 10 (specifically 10.11), “NAGPRA Regulations-Disposition of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains; Final Rule with request for comments, Monday, March 15, 2010, 75 FR 12378.” This rule became effective May 14, 2010 (public comments due by May 14, 2010). The document is 28 pages, the last 4 pages of which are the actual regulatory changes and the rest is preamble.
2021 NATHPO strongly supports the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021 (STOP Act).
2019 NATHPO strongly supports the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2019 (STOP Act).
2017 NATHPO strongly supports the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2017 (STOP Act).
2011 NATHPO TESTIMONY FOR U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS On June 16, 2011, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing on NAGPRA and other repatriation laws.
2009 NATHPO TESTIFIES BEFORE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FULL COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES On October 7, 2009, NATHPO testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources’ oversight hearing on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
“NAGPRA: AFTER ALMOST 20 YEARS, KEY FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL HAVE NOT FULLY COMPLIED WITH THE ACT.”
Almost 20 years after NAGPRA, key federal agencies still have not fully complied with the act for their historical collections acquired on or before NAGPRA’s enactment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined NAGPRA implementation in detail for eight key federal agencies with significant historical collections: Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and NPS; Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
Note: You can read the GAO recommendations and status of implementation on the GAO website for this report.
“FEDERAL AGENCY IMPLEMENTATION OF NAGPRA”
This study was undertaken to prepare a substantive foundation for assessing the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and identifying where improvements might be made. The Background section of this report includes historic information that describes one systemic effort that led to Native American ancestors and objects becoming separated from their local communities. The Research Findings section includes original research, analysis of existing public information, and two national surveys conducted to determine how the Act is being implemented and how Federal agencies and Native Americans are working together to achieve the goals of the Act. Findings and Recommendations included in this report reflect the current state of Federal agency compliance with the Act, as of May 2008.
National Park Service NAGPRA program was created by Public Law 101-601 on November 16, 1990. (25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.; Final Regulations at 43 CFR 10 as amended January 13, 1997, August 7, 1997, and May 5, 2003, and published in the Code of Federal Regulations October 1, 2003)
Repatriation activities of the Smithsonian Institution are governed by a separate law, however, the Institution’s role as a repository for human remains and Native American objects pre-dates the enactment of NAGPRA. Public Law 101-185, the National Museum of the American Indian, was signed into law on November 28, 1989, establishing the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) within the Smithsonian Institution (20 USC 80q). In addition to creating NMAI and the transfer of collections, the Act required the Smithsonian to create and carry out an institution-wide repatriation policy regarding Native American and certain cultural materials. The NMAI Amendments Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-278) added specific repatriation provisions.
2005 NATHPO CELEBRATES 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF NAGPRA
In November 2005 NATHPO commemorated the 15th Anniversary of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. NAGPRA directed federal agencies and museums in receipt of federal funds to work with tribal governments in returning Native American human remains and certain cultural items. Prior to this Act, collection of human remains and sacred items and objects of cultural patrimony were collected by various means and Native people were disenfranchised from asserting their rights to reclaim ancestors and cultural items. NATHPO convened a National Meeting of tribal representatives to discuss how NAGPRA has served their communities, as well as highlight some remaining challenges. NATHPO also coordinated an evening reception at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on November 16, 2005, which was the 15th anniversary of when the Act was signed into law (November 16, 1990). The National Park Service national NAGPRA Committee Meeting met in Albuquerque on November 16-17, 2005.