Summaries of Cultural Items

Representatives from a tribe and federal agency consulting on possible summary items.

NPS photo.

A NAGPRA Summary is a general description of Native American unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony in a holding or collection of a museum or Federal agency. A NAGPRA summary is an invitation to Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to consult.

What must be done?

A NAGPRA summary must be sent to any Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization who may be culturally affiliated with the cultural items. Museums and Federal agencies must respond to any Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization that request to consult on objects in a summary.

How are summaries reported?

The Summaries Database contains the name of each Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization that was sent a summary from a particular museum or Federal agency. Changes, updates, or new summaries should be sent to A Statement of No Summary indicates that the museum or Federal agency reported not having any unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony.

How are cultural items repatriated?

First, an Indian Tribe and Native Hawaiian organization must request repatriation of the cultural items in writing, and then the museums and Federal agency must evaluate the request. A request for repatriation must show that the cultural items:

  1. Are culturally affiliated with the requestor,
  2. Meet the definition of a specific type of cultural item, and
  3. Were not acquired with the voluntary consent of an individual or group that had authority to alienate the cultural item (see right of possession).

After evaluating and accepting requests for repatriation, museums and Federal agencies must publish notices of intent to repatriate prior to repatriating cultural items from a summary.

Last updated: April 26, 2023