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NAGPRA Glossary


A note to glossary users:
Each entry includes a term, the term's definition, and a citation for the source of the definition. All definitions are quoted as cited, except as noted otherwise. This glossary is a working document. Comments are welcome, and can be addressed to NAGPRA_info@nps.gov.


Aboriginal Lands: Federal land that is recognized by a final judgment of the Indian Claims Commission or the United States Court of Claims as the aboriginal land of an Indian tribe. [43 CFR 10.6 (a)(2)(iii)]

Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act: 43 USC 1601-1624. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act authorized Alaska Natives to select and receive title to 44 million acres of public land in Alaska, and $962,000,000 in cash as settlement of their aboriginal claim to land in the State. The Act established a system of village and regional Native corporations to manage the lands and cash payments, and made extensive provisions regarding the operations of the corporations. [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Digest]

Alaska Native village: See Indian Tribe.

Affected Party: An affected party is an Indian tribe, Native Hawaiian organization, lineal descendant, Federal agency, or museum. [Review and Findings Procedures of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee]

Associated Funerary Objects: Objects that, as a part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, and both the human remains and associated funerary objects are presently in the possession or control of a Federal agency or museum, except that other items exclusively made for burial purposes or to contain human remains shall be considered as associated funerary objects. [25 USC 3001 (3)(A)]

Burial Site: Any natural or prepared physical location, whether originally below, on, or above the surface of the earth, into which as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, individual human remains are deposited. [25 USC 3001 (1)]

Civil Penalties: A monetary penalty assessed against a museum that fails to comply with the requirements of NAGPRA. The Secretary of the Interior has authority to assess civil penalties pursuant to 25 USC 3007 (a). The amount of the penalty is determined pursuant to 43 CFR 10.12. See also Failure to Comply.

Claim: To demand as one's own or as one's right; to assert; to urge; to insist. A cause of action. Means by or through which claimant obtains possession or enjoyment of privilege or thing. Demand for … property as of right. [Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition]

Claimant: A lineal descendant, Indian tribe, or Native Hawaiian organization who asserts a claim for cultural items pursuant to NAGPRA.

Control: Having a legal interest in human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony sufficient to lawfully permit the museum or Federal agency to treat the objects as part of its collection for purposes of these regulations whether or not the human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects or objects of cultural patrimony are in the physical custody of the museum or Federal agency. Generally, a museum or Federal agency that has loaned human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony to another individual, museum, or Federal agency is considered to retain control of those human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony for purposes of these regulations. [43 CFR 10.2 (a)(3)(ii)] See also Possession, Physical Custody, and Federal Lands.

Consultation: A process conducted in accordance with 43 CFR 10.5, 10.8 (a), and 10.9 (b).

Cultural Affiliation: A relationship of shared group identity which can be reasonably traced historically or prehistorically between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group. [25 USC 3001 (2)]

Cultural affiliation is established when the preponderance of the evidence -- based on geographical, kinship, biological, archeological, linguistic, folklore, oral tradition, historical evidence, or other information or expert opinion -- reasonably leads to such a conclusion. [43 CFR 10.2 (e)] See also Preponderance of Evidence.

Cultural Items: Human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, cultural patrimony [25 USC 3001 (3)]

Cultural Patrimony: An object having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group or culture itself, rather than property owned by an individual Native American, and which, therefore, cannot be alienated, appropriated, or conveyed by any individual regardless of whether or not the individual is a member of the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and such object shall have been considered inalienable by such Native American group at the time the object was separated from such group. [25 USC 3001 (3)(D)]

Culturally Unidentifiable: Cultural items for which no culturally affiliated present-day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization can be determined. [43 CFR 10.9 (d)(2)] See also Inventory of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains/Review Committee Inventory

Custody: As used at 43 CFR 10.3 – 6, custody means ownership or control of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony excavated intentionally or discovered inadvertently in [sic] Federal or tribal lands after November 16, 1990 [43 CFR 10.6 (a)]

Departmental Consulting Archeologist: The official of the Department of the Interior designated by the Secretary as responsible for the administration of matters relating to 43 CFR 10. [43 CFR 10.2 (c)(3)] Many of the Departmental Consulting Archeologist's duties under 43 CFR 10 have been delegated to the National NAGPRA program manager.

Designated Federal Officer/Official: The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Section 10 (3) requires that a designated officer or employee of the Federal Government chair or attend each meeting of each advisory committee. The designated officer or employee is authorized, whenever she or he determines it to be in the public interest, to adjourn any such meeting. No advisory committee shall conduct any meeting in the absence of that officer or employee. Per the charter of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee, the Designated Federal Officer for Review Committee is the National NAGPRA program manager. See also Review Committee.

Disposition: Act of disposing. Transferring to the care or possession of another. The parting with, alienation of, or giving up property. [Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition]. As used at 25 USC 3002 and 43 CFR Subpart B, the term refers to the return of cultural items excavated or inadvertently discovered on Federal or tribal lands after November 16, 1990, to lineal descendants, Indian Tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations. The term disposition is also used at 25 USC 3006 (c)(5) with respect to the Review Committee's charge to recommend specific actions for developing a process for the disposition of culturally unidentifiable human remains. See also Repatriation, Return, and Transfer.

Documentation: A summary of existing museum or Federal agency records including inventories or catalogues, relevant studies, or other pertinent data for the limited purpose of determining the geographical origin, cultural affiliation, and basic facts surrounding the acquisition and accession of human remains and associated funerary objects. [43 CFR 10.9 (e)(5)]

Extension: Any museum that has made a good faith effort to complete its inventory, but which will be unable to complete the process by this deadline [November 16, 1990], may request an extension of the time requirements from the Secretary. An indication of good faith efforts must include, but not necessarily be limited to, the initiation of active consultation and documentation regarding the collections and the development of a written plan to carry out the inventory process. Minimum components of an inventory plan are: a definition of the steps required; the position titles of the persons responsible for each step; a schedule for carrying out the plan; and a proposal to obtain the requisite funding. [43 CFR 10.9 (f)]

Failure to Comply: For purposes of civil penalties, a museum has failed to comply with NAGPRA if:
1) after November 16, 1990, a museum sells or otherwise transfers human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony contrary to provisions of the Act, including, but not limited to, an unlawful sale or transfer to any individual or institution that is not required to comply with the Act;
2) after November 16, 1993, a museum has not completed summaries as required by the Act;
3) after November 16, 1995, or the date specified in an extension issued by the Secretary, whichever is later, a museum has not completed inventories as required by the Act;
4) after May 16, 1996, or 6 months after completion of an inventory under an extension issued by the Secretary, whichever is later, a museum has not notified culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations;
5) a museum refuses, absent any of the exemptions specified in 43 CFR 10.10(c), to repatriate human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony to a lineal descendant or culturally affiliated Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian;
6) a museum repatriates human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony before publishing the required notice in the Federal Register;
7) a museum does not consult with lineal descendants, Indian tribe officials, and traditional religious leaders as required; or
8) a museum does not inform the recipients of repatriations of any presently known treatment of the human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony with pesticides, preservatives, or other substances that represent a potential hazard to the objects or to persons handling the objects.
[43 CFR 10.12 (b)(1)] See also Civil Penalties.

Federal Agency: Any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States. Such term does not include the Smithsonian Institution. [25 USC 3001 (4)]

Federal Agency Official: Any individual authorized by delegation of authority within a Federal agency to perform the duties relating to these regulations (43 CFR 10). [43 CFR 10.2 (a)(2)]

Federal Funds, Receives: The receipt of funds by a museum after November 16, 1990, from a Federal agency through any grant, loan, contract (other than a procurement contract), or other arrangement by which a Federal agency makes or made available to a museum aid in the form of funds. Federal funds provided for any purpose that are received by a larger entity of which the museum is a part are considered Federal funds for the purposes of these regulations. [43 CFR 10.2 (a)(3)(iii)]

Federal Lands: Any land other than tribal lands which are controlled or owned by the United States, including lands selected by but not yet conveyed to Alaska Native Corporations and groups organized pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. [25 USC 3001 (5)]

Any land other than tribal lands that are controlled or owned by the United States Government, including lands selected by but not yet conveyed to Alaska Native Corporations and groups organized pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. United States "control" refers to those lands not owned by the United States but in which the United States has a legal interest sufficient to permit it to apply these regulations (43 CFR 10) without abrogating the otherwise existing legal rights of a person. [43 CFR 10.2 (f)(1)]

Federal Register: The official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. The Federal Register is published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). [Federal Register]

Human Remains: The physical remains of the body of a person of Native American ancestry. The term does not include remains or portions of remains that may reasonably be determined to have been freely given or naturally shed by the individual from whose body they were obtained, such as hair made into ropes or nets. For the purposes of determining cultural affiliation, human remains incorporated into a funerary object, sacred object, or object of cultural patrimony must be considered as part of that item. [43 CFR 10.2 (d)(1)]

Inadvertent Discovery: The unanticipated encounter or detection of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony found under or on the surface of Federal or tribal lands pursuant to section 3 (d) of NAGPRA. [43 CFR 10.2 (g)(4)]

Indian Tribe: Any tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians, including any Alaska Native village (as defined in, or established pursuant to, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians. [25 USC 3001 (7)]. This is the same as the Bureau of Indian Affairs list of federally recognized tribes, available online in PDF format.

Indian Tribe Official: The principal leader of an Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization or the individual officially designated by the governing body of an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization or as otherwise provided by tribal code, policy, or established procedure as responsible for matters relating to these regulations (43 CFR 10). [43 CFR 10.2 (b)(4)]

Intentional Excavation: The planned archeological removal of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony found under or on the surface of Federal or tribal lands pursuant to section 3 (c) of the Act. [43 CFR 10.2 (g)(3)]

Interested Party: Lineal descendants, Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, museums, and Federal agencies. [Dispute Procedures of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee]

Inventory: The item-by-item description of human remains and associated funerary objects [43 CFR 10.2 (g)(2)] as required at 25 USC 3003. The term inventory sometimes appears in the statute in the phrase "inventory and identification," which refers to the identification of the cultural affiliation of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects as a required part of the inventory. The inventory has two parts: 1) a listing of all human remains and associated funerary objects that are identified as being culturally affiliated with one or more present-day Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations, and 2) a listing of all culturally unidentifiable human remains for which no culturally affiliated present-day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization can be determined [43 CFR 10.9 (d)]. Museums and Federal agencies were required to complete their inventories by November 16, 1995. See also Control, Possession, and Summary.

Inventory of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains/Review Committee Inventory: A listing of all culturally unidentifiable human remains for which no culturally affiliated present-day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization can be determined [43 CFR 10.9 (d)(2)]. The Review Committee is authorized under 25 USC 3006 (c)(5) to compile an inventory of culturally unidentifiable human remains that are in the possession or control of each Federal agency and museum, and recommend specific actions for developing a process for the disposition of such remains.

Lineal Descendant: An individual tracing his or her ancestry directly and without interruption by means of the traditional kinship system of the appropriate Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization or by the common law system of descendance [sic] to a known Native American individual whose remains, funerary objects, or sacred objects are being claimed under these regulations. [43 CFR 10.2 (b)(1)]

Loan: Anything furnished for temporary use to a person at his request, on condition that it shall be returned, or its equivalent in kind, with or without compensation for its use. [Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition]

Museum: Any institution or State or local government agency (including any institution of higher learning) that receives Federal funds and has possession of, or control over, Native American cultural items. Such term does not include the Smithsonian Institution or any other Federal agency. [25 USC 3001 (8)] See also Federal Funds, Receives.

Museum Official: The individual within a museum designated as being responsible for matters relating to these regulations [43 CFR 10.2 (a)(4)]

NAGPRA: The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 USC 3001 et seq.

National NAGPRA: A Cultural Resources program of the National Park Service that assists the Secretary of the Interior with some of the Secretary's responsibilities under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and focuses on NAGPRA implementation outside of the National Park System.

Native American: Of, or relating to, a tribe, people, or culture that is indigenous to the United States. [25 USC 3001 (9)] Of, or relating to, a tribe, people, or culture indigenous to the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. [43 CFR 10.2 (d)]

Native Hawaiian: Any individual who is a descendant of the aboriginal people who, prior to 1778, occupied and exercised sovereignty in the area that now constitutes the State of Hawaii. [25 USC 3001 (10)]

Native Hawaiian Organization: Any organization which serves and represents the interests of Native Hawaiians, has as a primary and stated purpose the provision of services to Native Hawaiians, and has expertise in Native Hawaiian affairs, and shall include the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai'i Nei. [25 USC 3001 (11)]

Notice of Intended Disposition: A Notice of Intended Disposition is published in newspapers by the Federal agency official responsible for cultural items excavated or removed from Federal lands. Such notification is required pursuant to 43 CFR 10.7 (c). The Federal agency official sends copies of published Notices of Intended Disposition to the National NAGPRA Program.

Notice of Intent to Repatriate: A Notice of Intent to Repatriate is published in the Federal Register when a museum or Federal agency receives, reviews, and accepts a claim by a tribe for sacred objects, unassociated funerary objects, or objects of cultural patrimony. Such notification is required pursuant to 43 CFR 10.8 (f). The National NAGPRA program is responsible for publishing notices of intent to repatriate on behalf of museums and Federal agencies.

Notice of Inventory Completion: A Notice of Inventory Completion is published in the Federal Register when a museum or Federal agency has made a determination of cultural affiliation, or a determination of the lack of a reasonable basis for determining cultural affiliation for Native American human remains and associated funerary objects in its possession or control. Such notification is required pursuant to 25 USC 3003 (d), 43 CFR 10.9 (e), 43 CFR 10.13. The National NAGPRA program is responsible for publishing notices of inventory completion on behalf of museums and Federal agencies.

Objects of Cultural Patrimony: See Cultural Patrimony.

Organization: Short for "Native Hawaiian Organization," as used at 25 U.S.C. 3005 (a)(3), 25 USC 3009 (1)(B).

Physical Custody: The definition of custody in Black's Law Dictionary [6th Edition] distinguishes between immediate charge and absolute ownership: "Immediate charge and control, and not the final, absolute control of ownership, implying responsibility for the protection and preservation of the thing in custody." In NAGPRA, physical custody means having immediate charge of Native American cultural items regardless of whether or not one has sufficient legal interest to lawfully treat the objects as part of one's collections. See also Control and Possession.

Place and Manner of Delivery: Delivery is the act by which the res [object] or substance thereof is placed within the actual or constructive possession or control of another. What constitutes delivery depends largely on the intent of the parties. It is not necessary that delivery should be by manual transfer. [Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition] In NAGPRA, the place and manner of delivery refers to the place and manner in which cultural items are transferred from the museum or Federal agency to the possession or control of a lineal descendant, or culturally affiliated Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization. The place and manner of delivery are to be determined in consultation between the museum or Federal agency, and the requesting lineal descendant, or culturally affiliated Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization. [43 CFR 10.9 (d)] See also Control, Possession, Repatriation, and Transfer.

Possession: Having physical custody of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony with a sufficient legal interest to lawfully treat the objects as part of its collection for purposes of these regulations. Generally, a museum or Federal agency would not be considered to have possession of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony on loan from another individual, museum, or Federal agency. [43 CFR 10.2 (a)(3)(i)] See also Control and Physical Custody.

Preponderance of Evidence: As standard of proof in civil cases, is evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than the evidence which is offered in opposition to it; that is, evidence which as a whole shows that the fact sought to be proved is more probable than not. [Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition]

Repatriate: In NAGPRA (25 USC 3005 (f), 25 USC 3009), the term repatriate means to transfer physical custody of and legal interest in Native American cultural items to lineal descendants, culturally affiliated Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations. See also Disposition, Repatriation, Return, and Transfer.

Repatriation: In NAGPRA (25 USC 3005), the term repatriation means the transfer of physical custody of and legal interest in Native American cultural items to lineal descendants, culturally affiliated Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations. See also Disposition, Repatriate, Return, and Transfer.

Requesting Lineal Descendant/Tribe/Organization: The lineal descendant, culturally affiliated Indian tribe, or culturally affiliated Native Hawaiian organization that has stated a request for the repatriation of Native American cultural items to the museum or Federal agency that has control of the cultural items. Used in 25 U.S.C. 3005 (a)(3), "The return of cultural items covered by this Act shall be in consultation with the requesting lineal descendant or tribe or organization to determine the place and manner of delivery of such items."

Return: To bring, carry, or send back; to place in the custody of; to restore, to re-deliver. "Return" means that something which has had a prior existence will be brought or sent back. [Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition] Used in 25 U.S.C. 3005 (a)(3), "The return of cultural items covered by this Act shall be in consultation with the requesting lineal descendant or tribe or organization to determine the place and manner of delivery of such items." Also used in 25 USC 3009 (1)(a), "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit the authority of any Federal agency or museum to return or repatriate Native American cultural items to Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, or individuals."

Review Committee: The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee, an advisory committee established pursuant to 25 USC 3006. The Review Committee is subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and has authority to monitor and review the implementation of the inventory and identification process and repatriation activities under 25 USC 3003 - 3005. The National NAGPRA program provides staff support to the Review Committee. See also Designated Federal Officer/Official.

Right of Possession: Possession obtained with the voluntary consent of an individual or group that had authority of alienation. The original acquisition of a Native American unassociated funerary object, sacred object or object of cultural patrimony from an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization with the voluntary consent of an individual or group with authority to alienate such object is deemed to give right of possession of that object, unless the phrase so defined would, as applied in section 7(c), result in a Fifth Amendment taking by the United States as determined by the United States Claims Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1491 in which event the "right of possession" shall be as provided under otherwise applicable property law. The original acquisition of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects which were excavated, exhumed, or otherwise obtained with full knowledge and consent of the next of kin or the official governing body of the appropriate culturally affiliated Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization is deemed to give right of possession to those remains. [25 USC 3001 (13)]

Sacred Objects: Specific ceremonial objects which are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents. [25 USC 3001 (3)(C)]

Summary: The written description of collections that may contain unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony [43 CFR 10.2 (g)(1)]. The summary serves in lieu of an object-by-object inventory of these collections, although, if an inventory is available, it may be substituted. The summary must include: an estimate of the number of objects in the collection or portion of the collection; a description of the kinds of objects included; reference to the means, date(s), and location(s) in which the collection or portion of the collection was acquired, where readily ascertainable; and information relevant to identifying lineal descendants, if available, and cultural affiliation. [43 CFR 10.8 (b)] Museums and Federal agencies were required to complete their summaries by November 16, 1993. See also Control, Inventory, and Possession.

Traditional Native American Religious Leader/Traditional Religious Leader: A person who is recognized by members of an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization as: 1) being responsible for performing cultural duties relating to the ceremonial or religious traditions of that Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, or 2) exercising a leadership role in an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization based on the tribe or organization's cultural, ceremonial, or religious practices. [43 CFR 10.2 (d)(3)]

Transfer: To convey or remove from one place, person, etc. to another; pass or hand over from one to another; specifically to change over the possession or control of (as, to transfer title to land). [Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition]. In NAGPRA, the term transfer is used at 43 CFR 10.6 and 10.12. See also Control, Possession, and Return.

Tribal Land: All lands within the exterior boundaries of any Indian reservation; all dependent Indian communities; any lands administered for the benefit of Native Hawaiians pursuant to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, and section 4 of Public Law 86-3. [25 USC 3001 (15)]

All lands which are within the exterior boundaries of any Indian reservation including, but not limited to, allotments held in trust or subject to a restriction on alienation by the United States; or comprise dependent Indian communities as recognized pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 1151; or are administered for the benefit of Native Hawaiians pursuant to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 and section 4 of the Hawaiian Statehood Admission Act (Pub.L. 86-3; 73 Stat. 6). Actions authorized or required under these regulations [43 CFR 10] will not apply to tribal lands to the extent that any action would result in a taking of property without compensation within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. [43 CFR 10.2 (f)(2)]

Unassociated Funerary Objects: Objects that, as a part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later, where the remains are not in the possession or control of the Federal agency or museum and the objects can be identified by a preponderance of the evidence as related to specific individuals or families or to known human remains or, by a preponderance of the evidence, as having been removed from a specific burial site of an individual culturally affiliated with a particular Indian tribe. [25 USC 3001 (3)(B)] Those funerary objects for which the human remains with which they were placed intentionally are not in the possession or control of a museum or Federal agency. [43 CFR 10.2 (d)(2)(ii)]

 
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