reply to post by chachonee
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Pub. L. 101-601, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., 104 Stat. 3048, is a United States
federal law enacted on 16 November 1990.
The Act requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return Native American "cultural items" to lineal descendants
and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. Cultural items include human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and
objects of cultural patrimony. A program of federal grants assists in the repatriation process and the Secretary of the Interior may assess civil
penalties on museums that fail to comply.
NAGPRA also establishes procedures for the inadvertent discovery or planned excavation of Native American cultural items on federal or tribal lands.
While these provisions do not apply to discoveries or excavations on private or state lands, the collection provisions of the Act may apply to Native
American cultural items if they come under the control of an institution that receives federal funding.
Lastly, NAGPRA makes it a criminal offense to traffic in Native American human remains without right of possession or in Native American cultural
items obtained in violation of the Act. Penalties for a first offense may reach 12 months imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act is a law that establishes the ownership of cultural items excavated or discovered on
federal or tribal land after November 16, 1990. The act also applies to land transferred by the federal government to the states under the Water
Resources Department Act. However, the provisions of the legislation do not apply to private lands. The Act states that Native American remains and
associated funerary objects belong to lineal descendants. If lineal descendants cannot be identified, then those remains and objects, along with
associated funerary and sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony belong to the tribe on whose lands the remains were found or the tribe
having the closest known relationship to them. Tribes find the burden of proof is on them, if it becomes necessary to demonstrate a cultural
relationship that may not be well-documented or understood. Nowhere has this issue been more pronounced than in California, where many small bands
were extinguished before they could be recognized, and only a handful, even today, have obtained federal recognition as Native Americans and
descendants of Native American bands.
Congress attempted to "strike a balance between the interest in scientific examination of skeletal remains and the recognition that Native Americans,
like people from every culture around the world, have a religious and spiritual reverence for the remains of their ancestors."
The act also requires each federal agency, museum, or institution that receives federal funds to prepare an inventory of remains and funerary objects
and a summary of sacred objects, cultural patrimony objects, and unassociated funerary objects. The act provides for repatriation of these items when
requested by the appropriate descendant of the tribe. This applies to remains or objects discovered at any time, even before November 16, 1990.
Since the legislation passed, the human remains of approximately 32,000 individuals have been returned to their respective tribes. Nearly 670,000
funerary objects, 120,000 unassociated funerary objects, and 3,500 sacred objects have been returned. NAGPRA serves as a limitation, sometimes
restricting excavation of American Indian remains and cultural objects, thereby potentially limiting the possible study of these objects.
Map of Native American reservations
The statute attempts to mediate a significant tension that exists between the tribes' communal interests in the respectful treatment of their
deceased ancestors and related cultural items and the scientists' individual interests in the study of those same human remains and items. The act
divides the treatment of American Indian human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony into two basic categories.
Under the inadvertent discovery and planned excavation component of the act and regulations, if federal officials anticipate that activities on
federal and tribal lands after November 16, 1990 might have an effect on American Indian burials—or if burials are discovered during such
activities—they must consult with potential lineal descendants or American Indian tribal officials as part of their compliance responsibilities. For
planned excavations, consultation must occur during the planning phase of the project. For inadvertent discoveries, the regulations delineate a set of
short deadlines for initiating and completing consultation. The repatriation provision, unlike the ownersh