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ERIC Number: EJ923614
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
Repatriation in the United States: The Current State of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
Daehnke, Jon; Lonetree, Amy
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v35 n1 p87-98 2011
Repatriation in the United States today is synonymous with the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Although repatriations of Native American ancestral remains and cultural objects certainly occurred--and continue to occur--outside of the purview of NAGPRA, this law remains the centerpiece of repatriation activities in the United States. NAGPRA is important human-rights legislation, designed first and foremost to address the historical inequities created by a legacy of past collecting practices; the continual disregard for Native religious beliefs and burial practices; and a clear contradiction between how the graves of white Americans and graves of Native Americans have been treated. NAGPRA attempts to address these inequities by giving Native American communities greater control over the remains of their ancestors and cultural objects, and the law has provided some measure of success in this regard. But in the nearly twenty years since its passage, some significant shortcomings of NAGPRA have become readily apparent. The purpose of this article is to look at some of these shortcomings in NAGPRA, specifically the problems associated with the large numbers of culturally unidentifiable human remains (CUHRs) that exist in museums and federal agencies throughout the United States. Ultimately, the authors' goal is to question whether NAGPRA actually represents a moment of decolonization in practice or a modified continuation of the status quo. Before reaching that point, however, they provide a brief history of past collecting practices that moved Native American objects and human remains into museums, universities, and federal agencies in the first place and necessitated the passage of a law like NAGPRA. This article is designed to look specifically at the development of NAGPRA and the lingering problems associated with its implementation in the United States. (Contains 30 notes.)
American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548. Tel: 310-825-7315; Fax: 310-206-7060; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A