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The Spirit Of Repatriation Under NAGPRA

  • 3 Nov 2021
  • 5:00 PM (EDT)
  • Virtual

The Spirit Of Repatriation Under NAGPRA

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.

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