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VIRTUAL - The Spirit of Repatriation Under NAGPRA

November 3, 2021 @ 5:00 pm EDT Eastern Time

This is an online event.

AIA Society: Boston

Lecturer: April M. Beisaw

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990 established a federal process for the return of ancestors and their possessions, also known as human remains and grave goods. The letter of the law is both confusing and open to interpretation. The spirit of the law may be clearer; museums should know what they have in their collections and whether or not they have permission to retain them.  America’s museums were filled with objects of Native American or Indigenous origin at a time when some feared that certain peoples and their ways of life were vanishing. For decades now, Indigenous peoples have been asking for museums to return the objects and ancestors that they need to preserve their own cultures. Thirty years after the passage of NAGPRA, many museums, academic institutions, and federal agencies have yet to fully comply. This lecture explores the historical and ethical underpinnings of repatriation to show how understanding the spirit of NAGPRA helps to remove the obstacles and excuses that commonly hinder compliance.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Krech III, Shepard, and Barbara A. Hail, editors (1999) Collecting Native America, 1870-1960. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, DC. ISBN 9781588342775

Redman, Samuel J. (2016) Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674660412

Cooper, Karen C. (2008) Spirited Encounters: American Indians Protest Museum Policies and Practices. Alta Mira Press, Lanham. ISBN 9780759110892

Colwell, Chip (2017) Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226684444

Lonetree, Amy (2012) Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807837153

Chari, Sangita, and Jaime M.N. Lavallee, editors (2013) Accomplishing NAGPRA: Perspectives on the Intent, Impact, and Future of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Oregon State University Press. ISBN 9780870717208

Fine-Dare, Kathleen S. (2002) Grave Injustice: The American Indian Repatriation Movement and NAGPRA. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803269080

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November 3, 2021
5:00 pm EDT
Event Categories:


Bryan Burns


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