Advertise:   712.224.5420

Repatriation a major issue for tribes, museums

In 1990, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was signed into law, recognizing the rights of Native Americans and Alaska Natives to reclaim their cultural heritage.

The law requires museums that receive federal funding to publish a list of their inventories of ancestors and cultural property. Tribes, individual Native Americans and Native Hawaiians can seek to have the items repatriated.

In Wisconsin, the Ho-Chunk Nation is hoping to reclaim several items from the Milwaukee Public Museum. The tribe is concerned that the debt-riddle institution might sell some of its collection. Since 1990, the museum has complied with nearly 20 repatriation requests.

The process is extremely slow-moving. Some museums are behind in their inventories and have a difficult time returning items to their rightful owners. For tribes, documenting a claim can be time consuming.

Repatriation issues also extend beyond U.S. borders, with First Nations in Canada seeking and, in some cases, reclaiming artifacts and remains. The government of Peru is trying to recover remains and items taken from the country that are now being housed at from the Yale Peabody Museum in Connecticut.

Get the Story:
Museum Collections Shrink As Tribes Reclaim Artifacts (The Washington Post 3/9)
Peru Tries to Recover Gold From Yale's Ivory Tower (The Washington Post 3/9)

Relevant Links:
National NAGPRA -

Related Stories:
University hires employee to oversee artifacts (01/20)
Native students upset over handling of artifacts (05/17)
NAGPRA board asked to review Bush-Geronimo claims (08/16)
Repatriation a slow process for everyone involved (01/13)
Native Hawaiians, museum in repatriation fight (06/02)
Chicago museum returning remains to Haida Nation (03/27)
Opinion: Artifact sentence a slap in the face (03/03)
Man who sold sacred items spared jail time (02/13)
N.M. man pleads guilty to selling artifacts (09/11)
Eagle feather ruling leaves open questions (8/6)
Appeals court upholds eagle protection laws (1/17)
Man denies crime for selling artifacts (11/16)
Indian man convicted of eagle violations (10/29)
Court to rehear eagle protection cases (8/9)
Minn. man sentenced for eagle violation (5/31)
Man pleads guilty to selling artifacts (11/2)
Undercover sting nets sacred artifacts (10/02)
Govt works to protect artifacts (6/29)
Yahoo! removes auction (6/22)
Culture for Sale: Sitting Bull (6/20)
Culture for Sale: eBay (5/23)