Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

Kaats and Bear totem

Learn about this totem pole and Repatriation!


What is NAGPRA?

NAGPRA requires the Peabody Museum and other museums to repatriate culturally affiliated Native American human remains, funerary objects, objects of cultural patrimony, and sacred objects. The statute, along with subsequent administrative regulations, sets forth a detailed regime that museums must follow, including the inventorying of relevant holdings, communications and consultations with tribal nations, publication of notices in the Federal Register, and eventual transfer of human remains and cultural items to tribal nations.

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

The Committee is appointed by the FAS Dean to support the Museum’s long-term commitment to the implementation of NAGPRA and the ethical and moral imperative it represents.

Drawing from advice and expertise across the University, the Committee advises the Peabody Museum Director on issues and decisions in regard to the implementation of NAGPRA, as well as providing counsel to the Peabody Faculty Executive Committee and the FAS Dean. This academic year, in addition to keeping apprised of ongoing consultations, the committee is overseeing an assessment of pending repatriations and discussing the museum policy for funerary objects associated with culturally unidentifiable remains.



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 acts as Counsel to the Committee.


For NAGPRA inquiries, please see contacts and forms here.  


Implementation & Consultation

The size and broad scope of the collections at the Peabody make it one of the largest and most intensive NAGPRA implementation efforts in the nation. The Peabody Museum has developed a systematic and comprehensive program to administer NAGPRA that includes communication with 574 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and nations, as well as many state-recognized tribes and other native groups, and issuing 170 Federal Register Notices. The Peabody is committed to high standards of integrity and fair process in its efforts. The current phase of implementation involves sections of the expanded regulations issued by the Department of the Interior in 2010.

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 inquiries 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; inquiries 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).