Understanding the Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act

The right of tribes to protect and preserve their ancestral remains and obtain the return of their sacred and ceremonial objects is essential to all tribes. But some archaeologists, anthropologists, museum curators, and their professional associations, as well as some federal agency officials have asserted that they should have a superior right to those of the tribes.

This class examines the federal major laws that address protection of Native American graves and the repatriation of ancestral remains, as well as the repatriation of sacred and ceremonial objects and items of cultural patrimony to the tribes. The principles of each statute will be carefully outlined to clearly explain tribal rights and the procedures for exercising those rights.

Through interactive exercises, group discussions and case studies, learn how to use the law as a tool for protecting ancestral remains and repatriating remains and objects from museums and federal agencies. Discuss effective strategies, standard practices and innovative ways to protect ancestral remains and obtain the return of your tribe’s vital cultural patrimony.

Perfect for historic preservation officers, museum managers, cultural affairs directors, natural resources managers and tribal leaders.

T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Overview of the Law
  • Tribal cultural property law
  • Overview of Federal law (ARPA)
  • Repatriation law
  • Constitution, statute, regulations, policy and procedures
  • Administrative Procedures History Act
  • Authority of state historic preservation officers
  • Confidentiality and exception to FOIA
  • Tribal authority over non-tribal lands
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
  • NAGPRA implementation and penalties
  • Categories of cultural items
  • Item identification (museums and agencies)
  • Repatriation of human remains and cultural items
  • Sacred and ceremonial objects
  • Items of cultural patrimony
  • Cultural affiliation
  • Repatriation disputes
  • NAGPRA Review Committee
  • Excavations on federally-owned Indian land
  • Developing a repatriation program
  • The Kennewick decision
  • Legislative update
Establishing Cultural Affiliation
  • Scientific sources
  • Traditional sources
  • Legal sources
National Museum of the American Indian Act (NMAIA)
  • Overview of NMAIA
  • Working with the Smithsonian
  • Human remains
  • Sacred and ceremonial objects and cultural patrimony
State Burial Laws
  • Protection of burials on private lands
  • Sacred, ceremonial objects and items of cultural patrimony in private hands

*Topics subject to change.

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