News Release

National Park Service awards $3.4 million for the return of Native American remains and sacred objects

Two rows of people posed for a photo in a grassy field with the front row sitting in chairs or kneeling in front of those that are standing.
A reburial in Colorado in June 2016.  Supported by a NAGPRA grant, Native Nations, History Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, participated in this reinternment.

History Colorado

News Release Date: August 7, 2023


WASHINGTON – The National Park Service (NPS) announced $3.4 million in grants today to 16 Indian Tribes and 28 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). This is the largest amount of funding appropriated for NAGPRA grants since the Act was passed in 1990 and the funding program began in 1994. 

"The National Park Service is committed to supporting the critical work of Tribal consultations, documentation and repatriation,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams. “Returning sacred objects and remains through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act grants ensures Tribes are able to honor and care for their ancestors as they have been doing so since time immemorial.” 

NAGPRA provides systematic processes for returning human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony to Native American and Alaska Native Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. 

A total of 21 grants to seven Indian Tribes and seven museums will fund the transportation and return of human remains comprising of 11,354 ancestors, more than 10,400 funerary objects and 39 cultural items. 

The University of Colorado Museum and the University of Northern Colorado will assist six Native Nations in a reburial ceremony for 123 ancestors in southwestern Colorado. Grant funds will support travel costs for both museum and Tribal participants to attend the ceremony as well as labor and materials needed for the reburial. The joint project between the two universities reduces the overall costs for the reburial and reunites ancestors that have long been separate from each other and from their journey. More details on these repatriations are in the related Federal Register notices for the University of Colorado Museum and University of Northern Colorado.

FY 2023 NAGPRA Repatriation Grant Recipients


Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (3 grants)



Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska



Table Mountain Rancheria



Regents of The University of Colorado (2 grants)



University of Northern Colorado



Field Museum of Natural History



Ball State University



University of Massachusetts Amherst



Bay Mills Indian Community



Montana State University



New Mexico State University



Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (5 grants)



The Chickasaw Nation



Stockbridge-Munsee Community





A total of 34 grants to 11 Indian Tribes and 21 museums will fund consultation and documentation projects, such as staff travel, consultation meetings and research to support the repatriation process. 

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska, seek to preserve their culture through the repatriation of items needed for ongoing ceremonial use by Clans and Tribes of the various Tlingit and Haida communities. Clans own these items, objects of cultural patrimony, because no person has an individual claim to them. These items are considered of central importance to the Clans, as they have the voice of the ancestors and have been in use from time immemorial, a point in time before any memory or record. They have a history to which no museum can relate and for which no museum can sing any related song. Through repatriation, items are being brought back to life, having lain dormant for decades or a century. The goal of this project is to consult with the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, so the objects that are culturally affiliated with the Tlingit & Haida can be welcomed back and reintegrated into ceremonial life.

FY 2023 NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation Grant Recipients


Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository



Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska



University of Alaska Fairbanks



Arizona State University (2 grants)



Big Valley of Pomo Indians of The Big Valley Rancheria



Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake



Shingle Springs Rancheria



Susanville Indian Rancheria



Table Mountain Rancheria



University of California, Santa Barbara



Yurok Tribe



Western Colorado University



University of Florida



Georgia Department of Natural Resources



University of West Georgia



Northern Illinois University (2 grants)



State of Kansas, Kansas Historical Society



Michigan State University



University of Missouri System Curators



University of Mississippi



Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana



University of North Dakota



Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska



School For Advanced Research



Rochester Museum & Science Center



The Ohio Historical Society



Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma



Gilcrease Museum Management Trust



Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma



University of South Carolina



University of Wisconsin System



West Virginia Division of Culture and History





NAGPRA requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funds (including museums, universities, state agencies, and local governments) to repatriate or transfer Native American human remains and other cultural items to the appropriate parties. Federal agencies and institutions must consult with lineal descendants, Indian Tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations, evaluate repatriation or disposition requests for cultural items, and give public notice prior to repatriating or transferring. 

The NPS and DOI continue to improve the NAGPRA regulations to ensure Tribes and Native Hawaiians can bring their ancestors and cultural items home. In January 2022, the National Park Service hired a full-time investigator to enhance oversight and museum compliance with NAGPRA for the first time in in the Act’s 31-year history. In October 2022, the Department of the Interior published proposed changes to the NAGPRA regulations for consultation and public comment. In April 2023, the NAGPRA Review Committee reported to Congress on progress made and the barriers encountered while implementing NAGPRA during the previous fiscal year. This year, the NPS also hosted the first in-person Review Committee meeting since the pandemic.  

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 Park Service administers the National NAGPRA Program.
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Last updated: August 8, 2023