NAGPRA & Repatriation

Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

Kaats and Bear totem

Learn about this totem pole and Repatriation!


What is NAGPRA?

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was passed by Congress in 1990. It requires institutions that receive federal funding to inventory their collections, consult with federally recognized Native American tribes, and repatriate human remains or cultural items that meet certain criteria. In structuring conditions for repatriation, NAGPRA prioritizes a principle termed “cultural affiliation” which means a reasonable relationship can be demonstrated between an identifiable earlier group and a present-day federally recognized tribe or tribes. A full presentation of the process as stipulated by the NAGPRA statute and regulations is available at National NAGPRA, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.


Peabody Museum NAGPRA Advisory Committee

FAS Dean Claudine Gay and Peabody Director Jane Pickering are delighted to announce the formation of a new NAGPRA Committee for the Peabody Museum. The Committee will advise Director Pickering on issues and decisions in regard to the implementation of NAGPRA, as well as providing counsel to Dean Gay and the Peabody Faculty Executive Committee. The Committee will draw from advice and expertise across the University in its long-term commitment to the implementation of NAGPRA.



Chair: Philip Deloria (Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History)

Matthew Liebmann (Peabody Professor of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Peabody Faculty Executive Committee Chair)

Suzanne Day (Senior Director, Harvard Federal Relations)

Shelly Lowe (Executive Director, Harvard University Native American Program)

Megan Minoka Hill (Program Director, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development & Director, Honoring Nations, Harvard Kennedy School)


Ellen Berkman at the Office of General Counsel will act as Counsel to the Committee.

For NAGPRA inquiries, please see contacts and forms here.  


Implementation & Consultation

The Peabody Museum contains many collections that fall under the NAGPRA statute and is engaged in working with Native American groups to meet its responsibilities under both the intent and spirit of the statute. The Museum welcomes consultation with Native American tribes, Alaska Native corporations, and Native Hawaiian organizations and strives to understand each group’s goals on a case-by-case basis.

NAGPRA activities include

  • consultations with Native American groups,
  • publication of Notices of Intent to Repatriate or Notices of Inventory Completion in the Federal Register,
  • physical repatriation,
  • research and production of inventory reports,
  • co-curation,
  • national dialogues, and
  • response to inquires from students or other interested parties.

The Museum encourages groups embarking on repatriation activities to begin by consulting the Peabody's Collections Online for remote access to collections information (including images) and NAGPRA consultation.

Consultations with Native American groups under NAGPRA take several forms: visits to the Museum to discuss human remains, funerary objects, and sacred objects or objects of cultural patrimony; inquires for additional information on collections; arrangements for physical repatriations; co-curation, with an emphasis on traditional care; and web consultation through the collections database online.

The Museum actively seeks opportunities to improve and expand collections accessibility for Native American communities, whether through NAGPRA or other means.

See also Contacts & Forms, NAGPRA in the Galleries


Ongoing Consultations

On August 6 and 7, 2019, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology welcomed representatives from the Delaware Nation and the Delaware Tribe of Indians, both of Oklahoma. This visit was funded by a National Park Service Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) consultation grant awarded to the Delaware Tribe of Indians.
The delegation came to the Peabody Museum to consult on and view ethnographic and archaeological items, human remains, and archival documents, particularly from the Abbott Farm Complex in Trenton, New Jersey. Collections from the Abbott Farm Complex are also located at seven other institutions across the U.S. and documentation of this expansive collection has been ongoing for the last three decades. Continued research and collaboration among the Lenape people (who also include the Stockbridge Munsee Community, Wisconsin) has resulted in multiple NAGPRA grants to further tribal and institutional understanding of this complex’s deep and rich history. This consultation visit continues a productive dialog between Lenape people and the Peabody Museum.

Representatives from the Delaware Nation and the Delaware Tribe of Indians

Representatives from the Delaware Nation and the Delaware Tribe of Indians visit the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Clockwise from left: Patricia Capone (Peabody Museum), Brice Obermeyer (Delaware Tribe of Indians), Meredith Luze (Peabody Museum), Stuart Heebner (Peabody Museum), Sandra Dong (Peabody Museum), Michele Morgan (Peabody Museum), Jane Rousseau (Peabody Museum), Nekole Alligood (Delaware Nation), Katy Mollerud (Peabody Museum), and Susan Bachor (Delaware Tribe of Indians).