The National Park Service (NPS) has announced a grant allocation of $3.4 million to benefit 16 American Indian Tribes and 28 museums. These grants are designed to provide support for activities related to consultation, documentation, and the repatriation of ancestral remains and cultural artifacts, all in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This funding represents the most substantial appropriation for NAGPRA grants since the Act's enactment in 1990 and the inception of the funding program in 1994.
Chuck Sams (Umatilla), the Director of the National Park Service, emphasized the agency's unwavering commitment to facilitating Tribal consultations, documentation, and repatriation efforts.
"By granting funds through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, we are ensuring that Tribes can continue to honor and care for their ancestors, a practice they have upheld since time immemorial," Sams said.
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NAGPRA outlines a structured framework for returning human remains, funerary objects, sacred items, and objects of cultural significance to Native American and Alaska Native Tribes, as well as Native Hawaiian organizations.
Among the grants, a total of 21 awards have been bestowed upon seven Indian Tribes and seven museums. These funds will support the transportation and repatriation of human remains, which include a significant number—11,354 ancestors—along with more than 10,400 funerary objects and 39 cultural items.
The University of Colorado Museum and the University of Northern Colorado have collaborated to facilitate a reburial ceremony for 123 ancestors located in southwestern Colorado. This joint effort will be aided by grant funds that cover travel expenses for both museum and Tribal representatives participating in the ceremony. Additionally, the funds will be allocated for labor and materials required for the reburial process. This collaborative project not only reduces the overall costs associated with the reburial but also reunites long-separated ancestors and restores their shared journey. For more comprehensive information about these repatriations, refer to the relevant Federal Register notices for the University of Colorado Museum and the University of Northern Colorado.
FY 2023 NAGPRA Repatriation Grant Recipients
Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (3 grants) - $44,02
Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska - $14,96
Table Mountain Rancheria - $15,000
Regents of The University of Colorado (2 grants) - $22,554
University of Northern Colorado - $9,773
Field Museum of Natural History - $14,087
Ball State University- $10,255
University of Massachusetts Amherst - $15,000
Bay Mills Indian Community - $4,436
Montana State University - $6,093
New Mexico State University - $15,000
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (5 grants) - $70,098
OK- The Chickasaw Nation - $14,990
Stockbridge-Munsee Community - $15,000
Total - $271,277
A total of 34 grants to 11 Indian Tribes and 21 museums will fund consultation and documentation projects, such as staff travel, consultation meetings and research to support the repatriation process.
The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska, seek to preserve their culture through the repatriation of items needed for ongoing ceremonial use by Clans and Tribes of the various Tlingit and Haida communities. Clans own these items, objects of cultural patrimony, because no person has an individual claim to them.
These items are considered of central importance to the Clans, as they have the voice of the ancestors and have been in use from time immemorial, a point in time before any memory or record. They have a history to which no museum can relate and for which no museum can sing any related song. Through repatriation, items are being brought back to life, having lain dormant for decades or a century. The goal of this project is to consult with the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, so the objects that are culturally affiliated with the Tlingit & Haida can be welcomed back and reintegrated into ceremonial life.
FY 2023 NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant Recipients
Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository - $99,713
Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska - $99,122
University of Alaska Fairbanks - $98,925
Arizona State University (2 grants) - $199,675
Big Valley of Pomo Indians of The Big Valley Rancheria - $99,407
Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake - $98,684
Shingle Springs Rancheria - $100,000
Susanville Indian Rancheria - $99,999
Table Mountain Rancheria - $25,211
University of California, Santa Barbara - $99,932
Yurok Tribe - $98,713
Western Colorado University - $81,616
University of Florida - $99,897
Georgia Department of Natural Resources - $94,914
University of West Georgia - $99,417
Northern Illinois University (2 grants) - $121,224
State of Kansas, Kansas Historical Society - $100,000
Michigan State University - $99,958
University of Missouri System Curators - $100,000
University of Mississippi - $85,580
Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana - $99,286
University of North Dakota- -$100,000
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska - $100,000
School For Advanced Research - $88,799
Rochester Museum & Science Center - $99,997
The Ohio Historical Society - $98,573
Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma - $100,000
Gilcrease Museum Management Trust- -74,574
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma - $78,794
University of South Carolina - $99,953
University of Wisconsin System - $93,785
West Virginia Division of Culture and History - $99,975
Total - $3,135,723
NAGPRA requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funds (including museums, universities, state agencies, and local governments) to repatriate or transfer Native American human remains and other cultural items to the appropriate parties. Federal agencies and institutions must consult with lineal descendants, Indian Tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations, evaluate repatriation or disposition requests for cultural items, and give public notice prior to repatriating or transferring.
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