The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a Federal law enacted in 1990 to resolve and restore the rights of Native American lineal descendants and tribes to human remains and cultural items. California NAGPRA is a State law enacted in 2001 to facilitate the implementation of Federal NAGPRA and to provide a mechanism to repatriate to California Indian Tribes as defined by California NAGPRA. Federal NAGPRA requires museums, agencies, and universities that accept Federal funding to consult with Native American tribes regarding the repatriation of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony in museum collections, or discovered on Federal or Tribal lands after 1990. UC Davis houses Native American human remains and cultural items subject to NAGPRA in three separate campus repositories including the Department of Anthropology Museum, the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, and the Shields Library Special Collections. The majority of materials subject to NAGPRA are stewarded in the Department of Anthropology Museum, which curates archaeological and ethnographic collections, primarily from California.

Prior to the implementation of NAGPRA UC Davis held Native American human remains from approximately 325 ancestors in University stewardship. Human remains and cultural items were primarily obtained between 1960 and 1987 as the result of UC Davis Field Schools, salvage projects, or inadvertent discoveries by the public.

NAGPRA Summaries and Inventories were provided to potentially affiliated tribes and National NAGPRA by 1993, 1995 and subsequently by the deadlines established by the future applicability regulations with invitations to consult. The campus is continuing to consult and report newly discovered human remains and cultural items. 

In 2014, UC Davis reorganized NAGPRA compliance responsibilities by centralizing compliance under the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, and hiring a team specifically dedicated to NAGPRA and charged with developing a proactive consultation program. 

See below the for 2019 report to the UC Regents