National Park Service Working with American Indians, Alaska Natives And Native Hawaiians
  • Native Americans with cermeonial masks

    Working with Native Americans

    Cultural Resources National Park Service

National Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Program

Crow saddles
Gordon Real Bird, Jr (seated) and Jack Real Bird photographing and taking notes on Crow saddles in the Field Museum's collections, courtesy of the National NAGPRA Program

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) provides a process for museums and Federal agencies to resolve interests in Native American cultural items -- human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony -- amongst lineal descendants, Indian tribes (under NAGPRA this also refers to Alaska Native villages), and Native Hawaiian organizations.

NAGPRA was passed on November 16, 1990, to resolve the disposition of Native American human remains and cultural items under the control of Federal agencies and institutions that receive Federal funding, as well as the ownership or control of human remains and other cultural items discovered on Federal or tribal lands after November 16, 1990. The statute and regulations outline the rights and responsibilities of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, Native Hawaiian organizations, Federal agencies, and certain institutions in the NAGPRA compliance process, and provide the procedures for these parties to follow. Depending on the cultural item in question, lineal descendants (regardless of whether or not they are Native American), Indian tribes , and Native Hawaiian organizations, are provided a process in which to request that individuals or a NAGPRA cultural item be transferred to them.

The National NAGPRA Program supports the Secretary of the Interior’s implementation responsibilities as outlined in the legislation and facilitates the implementation of NAGPRA through the following activities:

  • Supports the Review Committee established to monitor NAGPRA compliance, make findings of fact, facilitate the resolution of disputes, consult on regulations, and report to Congress
  • Drafts regulations to implement NAGPRA, in consultation with the Review Committee
  • Publishes notices in the Federal Register
  • Maintains databases for NAGPRA inventories and summaries, and to identify consulting parties
  • Administers grants to Indian tribes, Alaska native villages, Native Hawaiian organizations, and museums
  • Provides training and outreach programs to Indian tribes, Alaska native villages, Native Hawaiian organizations, museums, institutions, Federal agencies and the public
  • Staffs the Secretary on civil penalties imposed on institutions that fail to comply with NAGPRA