NAGPRA, CUI and institutional will

Authored by: D. Rae Gould

The Routledge Companion to Cultural Property

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138812642
eBook ISBN: 9781315641034
Adobe ISBN:


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Having been engaged in the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) for several decades – both as a tribal representative and a museum/institution representative – I have seen different sides and practices of this US law. I have witnessed examples of both how the law can work and result in repatriation, and how it can be used to retain what some museum professionals and scientists feel are “evidence” or “material culture” needed to further our collective understanding of the human past. Even when officially acting as a museum representative at a major university implementing NAGPRA, I was also always a representative for my tribe 1 and the tribal peoples we engaged with in repatriation efforts. I cannot separate these as distinct responsibilities because NAGPRA’s goal is, first and foremost, to repatriate ancestors, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony to tribes they are related to. 2

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