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January-December 2009

January 2009: Review Committee Appointments

The Secretary of the Interior has made three appointments to the Review Committee, effective January 12, 2009. Eight individuals were nominated by national scientific and museum organizations for two positions on the Committee. After careful consideration of their qualifications, then Secretary Kempthorne appointed Dr. Sonya L. Atalay to a four-year term and reappointed Mr. Dan L. Monroe to a two-year term (the terms of appointment for non-current and current members are set in the Review Committee Charter). Five individuals were nominated by Indian tribes and traditional religious leaders for one position on the Committee to be filled by a traditional religious leader. After careful consideration of their qualifications, Secretary Kempthorne appointed Mr. Eric Paul Hemenway to this position. The interest shown in service on the Review Committee by so many tribes and organizations was appreciated by the Secretary.

On May 20, 2008, the terms of three members of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee expired. Two of the members, Mr. Dan Monroe and Dr. Vincas Steponaitis, had been appointed from nominations submitted by national scientific and museum organizations. The third member, Mr. Willie Jones, had been appointed from nominations submitted by Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. Mr. Jones is a traditional religious leader. They are all to be commended for the considerable time they devoted in service to the NAGPRA process and for their collective wisdom which benefited all NAGPRA constituents.

On February 13, 2008, a notice soliciting nominations for the three positions was published in the Federal Register (73 Fed. Reg. 8361). The deadline for receipt of nominations was June 12, 2008. Although the selection process was not completed by the time of the Review Committee meeting in October 2008, the terms of the Review Committee charter allowed prior appointees to continue to serve until replaced. The new appointees will attend the next meeting May 23-24, in Seattle, Washington.

On behalf of all of those in the Department of the Interior, who work to support the National NAGPRA Program and the Review Committee, we extend a sincere welcome to the new appointees:

Sonya Atalay , an assistant professor of anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington, is the current chair of the Society for American Archaeology’s Committee on Native American Relations and the former chair of its Indigenous Populations Interest Group. In her academic writing and speaking, her fieldwork in Turkey, and her outside consultation work in the Great Lakes region of the United States, Dr. Atalay has developed methodologies in archeology and heritage management designed to foster collaboration between scientists and descendant and local communities. Her hands-on experience with NAGPRA compliance includes working, since 2002, with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and the Michigan Anishinabek Cultural Preservation and Repatriation Alliance (which includes representatives of all the Federally- and State-recognized tribes in the State of Michigan) on NAGPRA-related research.

Dan Monroe is a current member of the Review Committee and also served on the Review Committee from 1992 to 1996. He is the executive director and chief executive officer of the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem, Massachusetts, and former president of the American Association of Museums. Mr. Monroe also chairs the Association of Art Museum Directors’ Art Issues Committee. During the passage of NAGPRA, he played a central role in negotiating compromise language that was included in the law. In his service on the Review Committee, Mr. Monroe has facilitated the resolution of a variety of disputes, assisted the Secretary in promulgating regulations, and provided valuable advice on complex issues.

Eric Hemenway performs traditional ceremonies for his tribe, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Since 2006, he has been working with NAGPRA compliance on a daily basis, as the research/repatriation assistant for the Archives/Records and Cultural Preservation Department of the tribe. Mr. Hemenway has been relied upon by other tribes seeking his assistance with requests to the Review Committee for the disposition of culturally unidentifiable human remains, and has personally appeared before the Review Committee. He has demonstrated an understanding of the Review Committee’s deliberative process, including the evidence required to be presented by parties seeking a Review Committee recommendation.

February 2009: National NAGPRA Program Releases Report on Culturally Affiliated Native American Human Remains Not Published In Notices

Washington , DC – The National Park Service (NPS) recently announced the release of a new report by the Native American Grave Repatriation Act Program (NAGPRA) entitled “Culturally Affiliated Native American Human Remains Not Published In Notices”. The report was compiled by Katherine Maas, a National NAGPRA Program Intern and graduate student in the George Washington University, Museum Studies Program.

National Park Service Director, Mary A. Bomar commented that, “We are pleased with the scholarship evident in the report and the cooperation of the George Washington University, Museum Studies Program, which made this internship possible at no cost to NPS.”

This report, which is available at, is intended to illuminate the circumstances surrounding a population of Native American human remains in museum and Federal agency collections across the United States that are still separated from their people. The remains of the 1,095 individuals discussed in this report have been culturally affiliated, but have not yet been published in notices of inventory completion, the critical step in the process of repatriation under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Through this report, the National NAGPRA Program hopes to encourage a satisfactory resolution in the cases of these 1,095 individuals, and to create a format for future National NAGPRA Program reports on the status of additional Native American human remains in institutional collections.

The National NAGPRA Program will continue to review inventory submissions in order to establish a more accurate figure. Development of a public access database of culturally affiliated individuals, listed in inventories of museums and federal agencies is in the works.


Funding is now available to cover travel and per diem expenses for the first 15 representatives from a Federally-recognized tribe, Native Hawaiian organization or Alaska Native village or corporation who qualify, to attend the NAGPRA program’s newest training “Writing and Managing a Successful NAGPRA Grant” scheduled for May 20-21, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.

Attendees will learn how to take the current needs of their tribe or museum and turn it into a fundable project, gain an understanding of how the NAGPRA grants are awarded and monitored and develop a first draft of a grant application.

For the first 15 people who qualify, the National Museum of the American Indian is offering $1,000 per applicant payable upon completion of the seminar to offset the costs for accommodations, travel and per diem to attend the workshop. There is no application necessary for this funding, however applicants must be committed to attending the entire seminar and be affiliated with a tribe, a Native Hawaiian organization or an Alaska Native village or corporation.

Also, the National NAGPRA Program, through the National Preservation Institute, is offering scholarships to representatives from tribes, NHO’s and Alaska Native villages and corporations to offset the cost of the registration fee ($375 before April 8; $425 regular rate). Additional scholarships are available to tribes, NHO’s and museums to attend select courses through the National Preservation Institute.

For more information contact the National Preservation Institute at or 703-765-0100, or go to A list of available courses can be accessed through the National NAGPRA program website.

June 2009: NAGPRA Notice of Regulations Continuation

On June 18, 2009, a notice published in the Federal Register which is identified as "Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals," 28942 [E9-14319]. This is a periodic renewal of the underlying set of regulations pertaining to NAGPRA, 43 CFR Part 10. There is no substantive change to the NAGPRA regulations. Rather, this is part of an obligation of all Federal programs having regulations, which require information collection from private entities, to factor the costs of compliance, which is reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget every three years. This notice is of no impact on the reserved section of the regulations, the culturally unidentifiable disposition rule, 10.11, under review at the Department of the Interior.

June 2009: Federal Recognition of the Wilton Miwok Rancheria
For details, see the supplementary information section of the notice published July 13, 2009.

June 2009: Native American Consultation Database (NACD)
The NACD is undergoing maintenance to improve the quality for the end user. The expected timeframe for updates should occur by September. For inquiries or questions, please send your request to the NACD Administrator at

June 2009: June 8 Meeting
On June 8, 2009, the subcommittee of the NAGPRA Review Committee created by Congress to develop the consented-to list of persons from which the Secretary of the Interior appoints the at-large Review Committee member held a telephonic, administrative meeting. Here are the minutes and the transcript of that meeting.

July 2009: Secretary Salazar appoints Chairman Mervin Wright, Jr. to the NAGPRA Review Committee

On July 23, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar appointed Mervin Wright, Jr., Chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (Nevada), to serve on the NAGPRA Review Committee. He was nominated by the Comanche Nation (Oklahoma),  the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and the  Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Chairman Wright is on the tribal repatriation committee.  He will be attending his first meeting in Sarasota, Florida on October 30-31, 2009.

September 2009: Secretary Salazar Appoints Dr. Rosita Worl to the NAGPRA Review Committee

On September 4, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar appointed Rosita Worl, Ph.D. (Tlingit, Alaska) to a four-year term on the NAGPRA Review Committee as the at-large member. She was one of three candidates on the list of persons developed and consented to by all of the members on the Review Committee. Dr. Worl is President of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, Vice Chair of the Board of Sealaska Corporation, and a board member of the Alaska Federation of Natives. She also teaches at the University of Alaska - Southeast. She served on the Review Committee from November 2000, until March 2009, and has chaired the Committee. The previous at-large member of the Review Committee was Colin Kippen (Hawaii).

October 2009: The National NAGPRA Program is pleased to announce its newest publication Journeys to Repatriation: 15 Years of NAGPRA Grants (1994-2008). With rich data and powerful stories, Journeys to Repatriation serves as both an inspirational resource and educational tool for those working with and interested in NAGPRA. The National NAGPRA Program has a limited number of hard copies available. If you are interested in receiving a copy or would like more information please contact Sangita Chari, Grants and Outreach Coordinator, at 202-354-2203 or

October 2009: The House Committee on Natural Resources, Indian Affairs Hearing on NAGPRA scheduled for Oct. 7, 2009, 10 am

Last week the National NAGPRA Program was advised that a hearing will be set on the implementation of NAGPRA. Testifying on behalf of the Department of the Interior will be Dan Wenk, Deputy Director, National Park Service. Sometimes hearings can be viewed by web-cam in real time. The witness list has not yet been made public, but members of the NAGPRA Review Committee requested to testify and were informed that the list was full. Click here for the Committee of Natural Resources.

October 2009: House Committee on Natural Resources, Oversight Hearing on NAGPRA

On October 7, 2009, the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing on the implementation of NAGPRA and the administration of the National NAGPRA Program. The meeting was well attended by Committee members.  Their interest in NAGPRA, and the full implementation of the Act, is much appreciated. Click here to access comments of Chairman Rahall and the witnesses. A thank you is also due to those who appeared at the hearing as witnesses and attendees in the packed room.

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