Inventories of Human Remains

Small boxes on shelves in museum storage

NPS Photo.

A NAGPRA inventory is a simple, object-by-object list of all Native American human remains and associated funerary objects in a holding or collection. A NAGPRA inventory consists of two separate lists:

  1. A list of human remains and associated funerary objects identified as culturally affiliated and
  2. A list of human remains and associated funerary objects for which no culturally affiliation could be determined, also known as culturally unidentified.

What must be done to complete an inventory?

Each museum and Federal agency must inventory the Native American human remains and associated funerary objects in its holding or collection and must identify the geographical and cultural affiliation of those holdings or collections. To complete an inventory, the museum or Federal agency must:

  1. Consult with any Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations with a possible cultural or geographical affiliation,
  2. Evaluate the information from consultation along with all other available information, including biological, archeological, anthropological, geographical, kinship, linguistic, folkloric, historical, and other relevant information, and
  3. Determine whether a relationship of shared group identity can be reasonably traced between an earlier identifiable group of people connected to the human remains and a present-day Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization.

If the available information reasonably demonstrates a relationship with a present-day Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, the human remains and associated funerary objects are culturally affiliated.

Cultural affiliation must be based on an overall evaluation of the circumstances and information pertaining to the connection between the human remains and a present-day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization. Cultural affiliation should not be precluded solely because of some gaps in the available information.

If the available information does NOT reasonably demonstrate a relationship of shared group identity, the human remains and associated funerary objects are culturally unidentified. Museums and Federal agencies must identify any culturally unidentified human remains that were removed from the tribal land or aboriginal land of a present-day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization.

Who must receive an inventory?

Museums and Federal agencies must send inventories of culturally affiliated human remains and associated funerary objects to the culturally affiliated Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations along with a notice of inventory completion that summarizes the results of the inventory. An Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization which receives or should have received an inventory may request additional available documentation from the museum or Federal agency.

Museums and Federal agencies must send a copy of the complete inventory to NAGPRA_info@nps.gov. Information on each set of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects reported under NAGPRA can be found in the Inventories Database. Museums or Federal agencies wishing to report no Native American human remains or associated funerary objects in a holding or collection may submit a Statement of No Inventory.

Last updated: October 14, 2020

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