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NAGPRA Awards $1.5 Million for Repatriation of Ancestors' Remains and Sacred Objects

National Park Department announces $1.5 million in repatriation grants under NAGPRA to 15 tribes and 16 institutions.

Remains of more than 300 ancestors could soon return home, thanks to $1.5 million in grants awarded to 15 tribes and 16 museums under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

Tribes received a total of 37 grants, the National Park Service (NPS) said, with the rest going to museums that will help identify, document and return ancestral remains and cultural objects to their place of origination. The grants range from $2,407 to $176,753.

“These grants address the basic desire to have stewardship over one’s own heritage,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis in a statement. “The NAGRPA process provides the opportunity for ancestral remains and cultural items to be returned to American Indian and Native Hawaiian peoples.”

Besides repatriating more than 300 ancestors, the grants will enable the return of “numerous funerary and traditional items to Indian tribes across the United States, travel by Indian tribal representatives to consultations with museums holding potentially affiliated remains and other cultural items, specialized training for both museums and tribes on NAGPRA, and the development of a tribal coalition to collaborate and facilitate the repatriation of significant collections currently in museums,” the NPS said.

Tribal recipients were the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, California, with $90,000; the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, awarded $88,161; the Comanche Nation, which got $85,300, and the Sherwood Valley Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians of California, which received $81,785. In addition the Karuk Tribe in California got $70,400; the Native Village of Barrow, Alaska, got two awards totaling $24,760; Wiyot Tribe, $9,564; Seminole Tribe of Florida, $6,863; Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, $12,816; Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, $8,861; Chickasaw Nation, $2,407; Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, $6,309; Delaware Tribe of Indians, $15,000; Kaw Nation, $13,905, and three awards to the Osage Nation totaling $29,513. 

The largest set of awards went to the Regents of the University of California, which got two grants totaling $176,753. The full announcement and list of recipients is at the National Park Service NAGPRA website.

NAGPRA, enacted in 1990, requires museums and federal agencies to identify the remains of American Indians who may be interred at the institution, as well as take inventory of any cultural objects housed there. The museums and agencies must also consult with tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian organizations about how best to return the items.

The grants were given under Section 10 of NAGPRA, which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial and other assistance for implementation, the NPS said. The rest of the awards are listed below.