The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), signed into law in 1990, provides a legal framework within which federally recognized Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations can request the return of ancestral human remains and certain cultural items—funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony—from federal agencies, museums, and other collection-holding organizations that have received federal funds.
Once a tribe has initiated a request to repatriate, a formal process of consultation, a review of the object’s history, and a clear determination of cultural affiliation must follow. Finally, the institution that has custody of the object or remains works with the National Park Service to publish a “Notice of Intent to Repatriate” in the Federal Register. If the claim is not contested for thirty days after the notice is published, the repatriation can go forward.
For more information about this federal law, see the National Park Service NAGPRA Program website.
Our Compliance with NAGPRA
As stipulated in the law, collection-holding institutions were required to meet two reporting deadlines. In 1993, in full compliance with NAGPRA, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College sent written summaries of culturally affiliated holdings to more than five hundred federally recognized tribes. In 1995, an inventory of human remains and associated funerary objects was completed, and in 1996 the associated “Notices of Intent to Repatriate” were published in the Federal Register.
Between 1990 and 2009, Kellen G. Haak, then collections manager and registrar, also served as the NAGPRA coordinator for the museum and facilitated five repatriations. For further information on those repatriations, please contact the Registrar’s Office.