What does NAGPRA require?

NAGPRA requires museums, agencies and universities to compile detailed summaries and inventories, consult with Native American tribes, and follow a process to return human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony that meet the requirements outlined in the law and are claimed by a tribe or tribes.

What is the scope of the items covered under NAGPRA?

NAGPRA covers five different categories: human remains, associated and unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony. Human remains fall into two groups 1) those that can be culturally affiliated or connected to a modern day tribe or tribes and 2) those that cannot are considered culturally unidentifiable.

Funerary objects are items that are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death, or later, as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture. In the event the museum holds both the human remains and funerary objects, the funerary objects are considered associated. In the event the human remains are not in the possession of a museum, objects are considered unassociated.

Sacred objects are specific ceremonial objects which are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents.

An object of cultural patrimony is an object having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group, rather than property owned by an individual Native American, and which, therefore, cannot be alienated, appropriated, or conveyed by any individual.

What is the difference between culturally affiliated and culturally unidentifiable?

Cultural affiliation means “a relationship of shared group identity which can be reasonably traced historically or prehistorically between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group” (25 USC 3001 (2)). NAGPRA requires this determination be made in consultation and consider multiple lines of evidence including geographical, kinship, biological, archaeological, linguistic, folkloric, oral tradition, historical, or other information.

Remains are culturally unidentifiable when a relationship of shared group identify cannot be established on a reasonable basis. Culturally unidentifiable remains are eligible to be claimed and transferred to Native American tribes using the 43 CFR 10.11 regulations.