On 17 November 1990, “The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act” (PL 101-601) was signed into law. This act mandates the return of specific kinds of objects to Native Americans, makes illegal their trafficking across state lines, and is specific about the process and procedures for archaeological excavations. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum) is primarily affected by the first of these three requirements, involving museum collections. Five categories of objects are identified in the law: human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, objects of cultural patrimony, and sacred objects.
Since the passage of NAGPRA, and in compliance with the law, the Penn Museum has mailed over 1000 letters to federally recognized tribes informing them of our holdings and extending invitations to consult with us about our holdings. As of 2014, 45 formal repatriation claims seeking the return of collections have been received and 25 repatriations have been completed resulting in the transfer of 232 sets of human remains, 750 funerary objects, 14 unassociated funerary objects, 20 objects of cultural patrimony, 22 sacred objects and 2 object claimed as both cultural patrimony and sacred.
In the spirit of the law, Penn Museum’s repatriation staff has worked vigorously to accurately inventory and research our collections, and to inform, consult and cooperate successfully with tribes about the items in our care. Observing and listening to native representatives talk about the objects has in several cases been especially rewarding and informative - in a very real sense, it has brought life to the collections.
|2013||Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians||Read More|
|2011||Tlingít T’akdeintaan Clan of Hoonah, Alaska||Read more|
|2008||Hui Mālama I Nā Kūpuna O Hawai’i Nei, the Hawai’i Island Burial Council, and the Office of Hawai’i Affairs jointly||Read More|
|2007||Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma||Read more|
|2006||Sisseton Wapheton Oyate Tribe, South Dakota||Read more|
|2005||Sac & Fox Tribe of Mississippi in Iowa||Read more|
|2003||Miami Tribe of Oklahoma||Read more|
|2002||Native Village of Kotzebue||Read more|
|2002||Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma||Read more|
|2002||White Mountain Apache Tribe||Read more|
|2002||Organized Village of Grayling||Read more|
|2000||Klamath Indian Tribe of Oregon||Read more|
|2000||Sac & Fox Tribe of Oklahoma||Read more|
|2000||Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe||Read more|
|1999||Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska||Read more|
|1998||Oneida Nation of New York & Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Read more|
|1998 & 2000||Cayuga Nation of New York||Read more|
|1994 & 2000||Chugach Alaska Corporation||Read more|
|1991, 1996, 1997, 1999||Hui Mālama I Nā Kūpuna O Hawai’i Nei||Read more|
|1990||Zuni Pueblo||Read more|
Penn Museum NAGPRA Resources
Volume 45, Number 3, Winter 2003
Out of Heaviness, Enlightenment—NAGPRA and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
by Robert W. Preucel, Lucy F. Williams, Stacey O. Espenlaub, and Janet Monge
Read the article
Volume 47, Number 2, Summer 2005
The Centennial Potlatch
by Robert W. Preucel and Lucy F. Williams
Read the article
Volume 50, Number 3, Winter 2008
The Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection—Historical Significance and New Research
by Emily S. Renschler and Janet Monge
Read the article
There is a relationship of shared group idenity which can reasonably be traced historically or prehistorically between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group.
Objects of Cultural Patrimony
An object having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group or culture itself, rather than property owned by an individual Native American, and which, therefore, cannot be alienated, appropriated, or conveyed by an individual regardless of whether or not the individual is a member of the Indian tribe or Native American organization and such object shall have been considered inalienable by such Native American group at the time the object was separated from such group.
Unassociated funerary objects
Objects that, as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, where the remains are not in the possession or control of a Federal agency or museum and the objects can be identified by a preponderance of the evidence as related to specific individuals or families or to known human remains or, by a preponderance of the evidence, as having been removed from a specific burial site of an individual culturally affiliated with a particular Indian tribe.
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.
Associated funerary objects
Objects that, as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, and both the human remains and associated funerary objects are presently in the possession or control of a Federal agency or museum, except that other items exclusively made for burial purposes or to contain human remains shall be considered associated funerary objects.