News Release

National Park Service Providing Funding for the Return of Native American Remains and Sacred Objects

Wooden bear staff
Image courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

These grants help facilitate the return of ancestral remains and cultural items currently in museum collections to Indian tribes and Native American Hawaiian organizations, including this bear staff.

News Release Date: August 15, 2017

Contact: Victoria Stauffenberg, 202-208-6843

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service announced today $1.6 million in grants to Indian tribes and museums to assist in consultation, documentation, and repatriation of ancestors and cultural items back to Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations.

“Respecting Native American history and culture is an important part of the National Park Service mission,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “These grants support the dedicated efforts of museum and tribal professionals to collaborate, consult, and respectfully return a significant part of our nation’s cultural heritage to Native American communities." 

The grants are awarded to 16 Indian tribes and 15 museums for consultation, documentation, and repatriation of Native American collections under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Twelve repatriation grants will fund transportation and reburial of 992 ancestors and 32 cultural items, covering trips from Connecticut to Alaska and Illinois to California and reburials in Alaska, Michigan, and Louisiana. Twenty consultation and documentation grants will provide funding for museum and tribal staff, travel, and, in cases where appropriate, digital photography, all in support of the repatriation process.

Over $250,000 of the funds will benefit Indian tribes in Alaska, building tribal capacity and funding consultation trips from Maine to Washington State. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will use grant funds to transport the Keet Gooshi (Killerwhale Fin) also called the “Bear Song Leader's Staff” back to Alaska. The Keet Gooshi was removed from Alaska sometime before 1948 and came to Richmond, Virginia, in 1955. The Keet Gooshi is a communally-owned object that has ongoing historical, traditional, and cultural importance to the Tlingit society and culture and is vital to the practice of the traditional Tlingit religion by modern day adherents.
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.

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FY 2017 NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant Recipients
State Recipient Amount
Alaska Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska $88,120
Alaska Organized Village of Kake $88,528
Alaska Sitka Tribe of Alaska $36,206
Arizona City of Phoenix $66,783
Arizona Hopi Tribe $81,194
Arizona University of Arizona $69,349
California Bridgeport Indian Colony $90,000
California San Diego Museum of Man $88,856
California Sherwood Valley Rancheria $90,000
Colorado Fort Lewis College $89,878
Connecticut Yale University $82,860
Indiana Trustees of Indiana University $85,044
Maine Abbe Museum $11,275
Michigan St Ignace City Municipality $38,921
Missouri University of Missouri System $89,295
Ohio Cincinnati Museum Center $78,697
Oklahoma Comanche Nation $87,640
Oklahoma United Keetoowah Cherokee Council $84,278
Oklahoma University of Oklahoma (Sam Noble Museum) $90,000
Texas Southern Methodist University $87,074
  Total $1,523,998
FY 2017 NAGPRA Repatriation Grant Recipients
State Recipient Amount
Alaska Native Village of Barrow Inupiat Traditional Government $15,000
California Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians $9,028
California Wiyot Tribe $5,605
Connecticut Yale University $14,802
Illinois Field Museum of Natural History $15,000
Michigan Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan $9,230
Minnesota White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians $4,681
Nevada Ely Shoshone Tribe $9,644
Oklahoma Chickasaw Nation $15,000
Oklahoma Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma $6,801
Virginia Virginia Museum of Fine Arts $14,290
Wisconsin State Historical Society of Wisconsin $13,921
  Total $133,002
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Last updated: May 22, 2018