NAGPRA Applied: Stories from the Field on its 25th Anniversary

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

November 16, 2015, marked the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The Society for American Archaeology’s (SAA) involvement with NAGPRA precedes the law’s passage. It helped build a coalition of scientific, museum and Native American groups that supported NAGPRA’s enactment and was one of the key organizations involved in drafting this groundbreaking legislation. For more than two decades, tribes, museums and archaeologists have worked together to implement NAGPRA and repatriation is integral to the professional lives of a number of SAA members. This session will look back on SAA’s pivotal role in NAGPRA’s passage and continued involvement in its implementation. SAA members who work in range of settings – academia, government agencies, museums, the private sector, tribal governments - will describe their experiences working with this law, assess its impact after 25 years and contemplate its future.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • A Brief and True History of SAA's Involvement with NAGPRA (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Vincas Steponaitis. Lynne Goldstein. Keith Kintigh. William Lovis.

    SAA was heavily involved in NAGPRA's passage, and played a key role in shaping the compromises embodied in this law. The Society's positions with respect to the many repatriation bills considered by Congress were conditioned by SAA's "Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains," a policy adopted in 1986. SAA strongly and actively supported the final bill precisely because it conformed closely, albeit not perfectly, to the principles articulated in this statement. The policy was also...

  • Complex Journeys: The Repatriation Experience and Tribal-Museum Relations (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Susan Benton.

    Tribes and museums have experienced a paradigm shift in their relationships during the twenty-five years of the NAGPRA era. The experiences of each group have been multi-faceted and complex, driven by new legal mandates and opportunities and shaped by differing viewpoints as to what must, should, and could emerge from the repatriation journey. This paper will explore some of the assumptions, experiences, and future expectations that NAGPRA has engendered in various tribal and museum...

  • Complying with NAGPRA at the Largest Public Utility: It’s Complicated (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas Maher.

    The Tennessee Valley Authority has control of approximately 8,000 human remains and 100,000 funerary objects stored in multiple major research Universities in the southeastern United States. It also manages 293,000 acres of land with 11,000 known archaeological sites. The successes, pitfalls and unexpected discoveries resulting from complying with NAGPRA over the last six years are evaluated in light of the future of prehistoric archaeology in the southeast U.S.

  • Consultation and Beyond: NAGPRA as a Gateway to Collaboration (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adam Watson. Jim Enote. Nell Murphy.

    With NAGPRA’s passage 25 years ago, many saw this federal mandate as an opportunity for museum professionals, scientists, and Native Americans to assess and change the dynamics of their relationships. Few however, likely anticipated the full range of collaborations between Native communities and institutions that emerged from NAGPRA consultations. One such example is the ongoing partnership between the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in...

  • Gazing at the Horizon: The NAGPRA Stories Yet to be Told (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lauren Sieg.

    What will NAGPRA look like in 25 or 50 years? The horizon is constantly shifting; it looks bright and dark, clear and complicated. Social research on the first generation of archaeologists to emerge after the passage of NAGPRA suggests that NAGPRA will remain relevant and important. At the same time, the increased diversity of this generation and an emerging post-racial world will challenge the concept of identity that lies at the heart of NAGPRA. Digital technologies will provide new methods...

  • Learning NAGPRA and Teaching Archaeology (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jayne-Leigh Thomas. April Sievert. Teresa Nichols. Anne Pyburn.

    In 2014 and 2015, researchers from Indiana University received National Science Foundation funding through their Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM initiative to study how repatriation is taught and learned, and to work toward interventions to improve the resources available. The “Learning NAGPRA” project prioritizes a more thorough understanding of the challenges and bottlenecks in preparing professionals for work related to NAGPRA and repatriation. It also seeks better ways to assist...

  • Museum archaeology in the United States: refocusing research questions and updating methodologies alongside NAGPRA (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patricia Capone.

    Collections in museums are components of refocusing and revising archaeological interpretation in the United States alongside the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Review of collections as prompted by NAGPRA is improving documentation and interpretation of those collections subject to the Act and beyond, across sites and regions. Previously incomplete archaeological contexts may be refined and these bring potential for updated research questions and methodologies. A...

  • Patriation: NAGPRA’s Regulations on Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains, applied (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jordan Jacobs.

    In 2010, the promulgation of new regulations under 1990’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) threatened to upset the hard-won balance that had developed between the legitimate interests of descendant communities and the scientific and museum communities over the previous twenty years. Because the 10.11 rule broadly mandates the disposition of culturally unidentifiable human remains, many parties—including the Society for American Archaeology—reacted negatively,...

  • Repatriation of the Ancient One - A Tribal View: Then, Now, and In-Between (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jacqueline Cook.

    The Ancient One’s 8,400 year old remains were claimed by Native American Tribes as their ancestor after eroding from the banks of the Columbia River in 1996. What began as an Inadvertent Discovery, defined in the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), turned into a 20 year challenge to the Act, tribal culture, oral traditions and religious beliefs. In 2004, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling allowing scientific study of the Ancient One; the...

  • Results of the 2015 Repatriation Survey (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elise Alonzi.

    In 2015, the Society for American Archaeology conducted a survey on members’ opinions on repatriation and the SAA’s Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains. Among other things, this survey was intended to gauge support for changing the SAA’s statement to privilege the wishes of Native American communities, to emphasize scientific values, or to more strongly recognize interests of multiple stakeholders. The majority of the 1,905 respondents to the survey believe that the SAA’s...

  • Seeking Balance: The Role of the Review Committee in NAGPRA Implementation (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Martha Graham.

    As part of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Congress established the NAGPRA Review Committee, and gave it formal responsibilities covering various critical aspects of NAGPRA's implementations. In establishing Review Committee, Congress sought to "ensure a balance between differing viewpoints among Native Americans, museums, and scientific organizations." This paper considers the Review Committee's involvement in NAGPRA and the important roles that the Society...