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.

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