Protecting Native American culture and history with NAGPRA
Today is the 26th anniversary of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a law enacted in 1990. This law was intended to secure the rights of Indian tribes to determine the disposition of their ancestors and funerary objects, as well as their rightful claims to objects necessary for the religious practices and items inherent to tribal identity—sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony.
Native American cultural sites cover our public lands. For millennia, tribal people lived on these lands. They hunted, fished, and farmed for food and sustenance. They studied the lands, the animals, plants, and sky, learning from nature, watching the stars. They built towns and cities. They explored, traded, and battled. They worshipped and practiced sacred rites. They raised their children. They buried their dead.
Our public lands include vast cultural landscapes covered with special places, some of which have been the subject of archaeological investigations, including burial sites. Most collections made from public lands over the last 100 years were curated in non-federal museums or universities designated in permits issued under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.