News Release

National Park Service Awards $1.9 Million for the Return of Native American Remains and Sacred Objects

A line of people in black shirts, each carrying a cardboard box, walk single file along a trail.
Repatriation, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, Nibokan (Place of the sleeping) Cemetery, 2013.

Photo courtesy of Marcella Hadden.

News Release Date: June 10, 2020


WASHINGTON - The National Park Service today announced $1.9 million in grants to 12 Indian tribes and 18 museums to assist in the consultation, documentation, and repatriation of ancestral remains and cultural items as part of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

“NAGPRA reinforces the basic right of people to determine how to best care for, and honor, the remains and societal objects of their ancestors,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, exercising the authority of the Director. “These grants will help tribes, museums and partners to respectfully transfer the items from museum collections to their traditional homes.”

Grants to Fund Repatriation

Seven grants will fund the transportation and return of 50 cultural items, more than 24,000 funerary objects, and human remains representing 3,483 ancestors.

The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation of Smith River, California, will carry out the Naa-ghee-xvlh (They Have Returned Home) Project. Tribal representatives will travel to the San Diego Museum of Man to take physical possession of nine funerary objects, as well as 50 cultural items considered to be sacred or tribal cultural patrimony. At the request of tribal elders and culture bearers, a conservator will conduct non-destructive testing to determine if the items were treated with any hazardous materials. The tribal delegation and museum staff will then prepare the items and construct appropriate containers for transport. Upon their return to Smith River, a ceremony will be held to welcome the cultural items home, and the funerary objects will be respectfully reinterred.

Grants to Fund Consultation and Documentation

Twenty-four consultation and documentation grants will fund museum and tribal staff travel, consultation meetings, and research, all in support of the repatriation process.

In Kodiak, Alaska, the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository will undertake the Angilluki (Return Them) Project in collaboration with the Kodiak Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Repatriation Commission. Museum staff will research the collections of 32 institutions to gain more comprehensive information on NAGPRA-eligible Alutiiq remains and cultural objects. The information gathered will be added to the Museum’s NAGPRA database and summarized in a written report for the Commission, which will convene for an in-person meeting. As a result of these documentation and relationship-building efforts, the Commission will establish regional repatriation priorities and develop resources to support future repatriation planning and implementation.


Enacted in 1990, NAGPRA requires museums and Federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding repatriation. Section 10 of the Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to award grants to assist in implementing provisions of the Act. The National NAGPRA Program is administered by the National Park Service.

FY 2020 NAGPRA Repatriation Grant Recipients


Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation



University of the Pacific



Field Museum of Natural History



Ball State University



Osage Nation



Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma



The Chickasaw Nation





FY 2020 NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant Recipients


Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository



Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes



Arizona Museum of Natural History Foundation



Hopi Tribe



Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria



San Diego Museum of Man



Shingle Springs Rancheria



Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians



Michigan Department of Natural Resources



University of Central Missouri



University of Missouri System



Mississippi Department of Archives and History



Regents of New Mexico State University



Cincinnati Museum Center



Ohio Historical Society



Gilcrease Museum Management Trust



Miami Tribe of Oklahoma



Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma



University of Oklahoma



Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon



High Desert Museum



Utah State University



Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities



Northern Arapaho Tribe





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Last updated: July 13, 2020