San Diego Museum

Courtesy of the San Diego Museum of Man.

Federal agencies and museums, universities, state agencies, local governments, or any institution that receives Federal funds must comply with NAGPRA.

What must be done?

NAGPRA requires certain actions depending on where the Native American human remains and cultural items are located. If Native American human remains and cultural items are located:

On Federal or Tribal Lands

Federal agencies must follow a process for any excavation or discovery of cultural items since the passage of NAGPRA (1990) on Federal or tribal lands. On private or state land, excavations or discoveries are governed first by local or state laws, but human remains or cultural items removed from private or state land may be subject to NAGPRA as a holding or collection, depending on who has control of them.

In Holdings or Collections

Each museum and Federal agency must compile an Inventory of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects and a Summary of other cultural items. A museum or Federal agency must ensure that these requirements are met for any Native American cultural item under its legal control regardless of where the cultural item is physically located.

What else must be done and how long does it take?

Museums and Federal agencies must:

Museums and Federal agencies must expeditiously repatriate or transfer upon request but must first give public notice.

What if these tasks aren't completed?

Criminal prosecution may result from selling or profiting from Native American human remains or cultural items obtained in violation of NAGPRA.

Civil penalties may be assessed against a museum that fails to comply with the requirements of NAGPRA.

A Review Committee monitors and reviews implementation of NAGPRA by museums and Federal agencies.

Grants are not awarded to museums that are not complying with NAGPRA.

Last updated: January 21, 2021