Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Compliance

Last Updated

University Policy 645
Original Issuance Date: June 4, 2024

1. Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish minimum standards for compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (Public Law 101-601) at UW-Eau Claire. This policy is adopted as required by UW System Administrative Policy (SYS) 645, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Compliance.

2. Responsible University Officer

Chancellor. The Institutional Representative will serve as the representative for the Chancellor.

3. Scope and Responsibilities

This policy applies to all university divisions and units.

The scope is limited to cultural items subject to and as defined in NAGPRA [25 U.S.C. § 3001(3)] (human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony) that are under control of the university or are being reviewed for acquisition or accessioning.

Nothing in this policy may be read or interpreted to conflict with the Wisconsin Public Records Law.

4. Background

As stated by the National Park Service (NPS): “Since 1990, Federal law has provided for the repatriation and disposition of certain Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. By enacting NAGPRA, Congress recognized that human remains of any ancestry ‘must at all times be treated with dignity and respect’…. With this law, Congress sought to encourage a continuing dialogue between museums and Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations and to promote a greater understanding between the groups while at the same time recognizing the important function museums serve in society by preserving the past” [NPS NAGPRA Home page].

UW-Eau Claire qualifies as “museums” under NAGPRA and therefore must adhere to the requirements of that law, as administered by the NPS National NAGPRA Program. The following policy reflects the university’s commitment to complying with both the letter and the spirit of the law, and to coordinating this work with Regent Policy Document (RPD) 8-2, Tribal Consultation and SYS 645, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Compliance.

5. Definitions

All terms are defined in SYS 645, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Compliance.

6. Policy Statement

A. Institutional Oversight

I. In consultation with the Tribal Consultation Committee, Chancellor will name an Institution Representative to oversee and ensure compliance with UW System and university policies related to NAGPRA, and to serve as the main point of contact with UW System for NAGPRA-related issues. The Institution Representative will also oversee the NAGPRA-related efforts of the university’s Unit Representatives.

II. The university is committed to compliance with all federal, state, and local laws pertaining to human remains and cultural items.

B. Consultation

All requirements below shall be executed in a manner consistent with the RPD 8-2, Tribal Consultation and SYS 645, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Compliance.

I. The university strives to resolve questions or issues concerning treatment and disposition/repatriation of human remains/ancestors and cultural items through consultation with Tribal nations.

II. The university will supply relevant information concerning NAGPRA-eligible collections as requested by Authorized Tribal Representatives. If the requested information will require some time to compile, the Unit Representative will provide an estimated time frame for completion and report all responsive activities to the Institution Representative.

III. The university will make available clear instructions and contact information to Tribal nations, outlining its process for requesting a consultation.

IV. The university will accommodate consultation with an Authorized Tribal Representative in a manner of their choosing whenever practicable. All consultation sessions must be proctored by either the Institution Representative or the UW System NAGPRA Director.

V. The university will consult as needed with Tribal nations to negotiate and approve practices for addressing information that meet the needs of the UW System, the university, and the Tribal nations during the NAGPRA process, subject to applicable law. Some topics to address could include:
  • Traditional care practices and preferences, storage requirements (including rehousing, if requested), handling, and access;
  • The specific collection(s) and/or objects of concern, and subjects or types of information that are considered confidential;
  • Recording preferences or restrictions before, during, and after consultation sessions, including note taking and use of recording devices (including cameras); and
  • Information allowed to be made available to tribal members, institution staff, researchers, government officials, the press, or members of the public who submit a request for information.

VI. The university endeavors to collaborate with other institutions to combine formal consultation sessions at the request of Authorized Tribal Representatives.

VII. The Institution Representative will maintain a standard record of all planned formal consultation sessions and report them to the UW System NAGPRA Director in advance (see Reporting Obligations below).

VIII. The Institution Representative will report the university’s annual NAGPRA compliance activities at the annual tribal consultation meeting conducted by the UW System under RPD 8-2, Tribal Consultation. The frequency of reporting for each Institution Representative will be at the discretion of the UW System NAGPRA Director.

C. Identification of NAGPRA-Eligible Human Remains/Ancestors and Cultural Items

I. The university will develop a strategic plan and appropriate protocols for identifying and reporting NAGPRA-eligible human remains/ancestors and cultural items in the control of the university. The plan and protocols must address identification of such items in existing collections, new acquisitions, and new discoveries, and must be routinely reviewed. The reporting protocol must include communication within the university, to the UW System, to Authorized Tribal Representatives as appropriate, and to the National NAGPRA Office.

II. If control is determined to belong to Federal agencies or State entities, the university will confer with the agency or entity regarding either transfer or management according to a long-term repository agreement.

III. The university may consult with Tribal nations regarding identification of other items under the university’s control that might be culturally sensitive even though they are not covered by NAGPRA or this policy.

D. Reporting and Acquisition

I. The university will provide a summary and status listing of NAGPRA-eligible collections and cultural items to the UW System NAGPRA Director.

II. If new (i.e., not previously reported) human remains/ancestors or cultural items are discovered within existing collections or new acquisitions that are under the control of the university, the Unit Representative will report such findings to the Institution Representative within thirty (30) days, and the Institution Representative will report them to the UW System NAGPRA Director within ninety (90) days of the date of acquisition or discovery. The report will also address how the university intends to comply with 43 CFR 10.13 (Future Applicability).

III. The university will establish oversight and review processes for evaluating collections being considered for acquisition through purchase, donation, or other means (e.g., curation agreements) to identify potential NAGPRA issues in those collections. These processes will meet the requirements of international, Federal, State, and local laws and UW System and university policies.

IV. Any long-term repository contracts or temporary custody agreements with other entities must maintain clear documentation concerning legal control as well as the management of and access to these collections that comply with both tribal guidance and each contract or agreement.

E. Care, Storage and Handling

I. The university will have policies regarding care, storage, and handling of human remains/ancestors and cultural items. These policies should comply with current preferences of Authorized Tribal Representatives, when possible and as appropriate, and should be documented by the Unit Representative and made available to both the Institution Representative and the appropriate Authorized Tribal Representative(s).

II. Every attempt will be made to identify past treatments performed on human remains/ancestors and cultural items, to take steps to isolate and eliminate exposure to harmful chemicals, and to report all known treatments to appropriate Authorized Tribal Representatives once identified.

III. When possible and appropriate, the university will make reasonable efforts to provide a process for facilitating ceremonies on its property in a manner that meets with Authorized Tribal Representatives’ requests, employee and visitor safety, and facility/building policies.

F. Photography/Imaging and Archives

I. The university will adopt policies that address imaging (photographs, scans, 3-D models, etc.) or documentation of cultural items, including access to and security of these files. These policies should make reasonable efforts to incorporate guidance received during tribal consultation.

G. Display and Interpretation

I. The display of cultural items, no matter their repatriation status, is prohibited unless permission on a case-by-case basis has been received from one or more Authorized Tribal Representatives.

II. The university will collaborate with the tribes for interpretation and exhibition of cultural items.

H. Physical Access

I. Access to buildings, rooms, or areas of rooms where cultural items are stored shall be restricted. Access to these areas must be thoroughly reviewed in advance and monitored. Requests for access by Authorized Tribal Representatives must be accommodated as soon as reasonably possible, taking into account staff availability, building access, and preparation logistics.

II. Unsupervised access to buildings, rooms, or areas of rooms where human remains/ancestors and cultural items are stored is prohibited unless training has been completed regarding NAGPRA compliance and appropriate care and handling procedures, except in case of emergencies.

I. Research Access, Loans and Other Activities

I. The university will host a webpage for NAGPRA compliance that includes, at minimum:
  • A link to the UW System NAGPRA compliance webpage;
  • Current contact information for the Institution Representative; and
  • A summary of reported NAGPRA activities, with links to publicly available information such as Federal Register entries and the National NAGPRA Program databases.

II. The university will refuse research or loan requests for any cultural items that are the subject of a repatriation request or that have been approved for repatriation without permission from the Authorized Tribal Representative. Per NAGPRA Regulations, requests from Tribal nations for documentation relating to NAGPRA-eligible collections must not be construed as authorizing either: 1) The initiation of new scientific studies of the human remains and associated funerary objects; or 2) Other means of acquiring or preserving additional scientific information from the remains and objects. [43 CFR 10.9(e)(5)(iii)]

III. The scientific investigation or loan of potential cultural items that have not yet been formally claimed under the provisions of NAGPRA is prohibited until determination of non-coverage or tribal consultation is complete and recommendations have been received. Scientific investigation for the purpose of reporting requirements to the National NAGPRA Office is a permissible exception, although the university may seek tribal guidance prior to proceeding.

IV. All non-university loan requests for American Indian objects, including cultural items, must be reviewed and approved by the Tribal Consultation Committee in coordination with other relevant university stakeholders.

J. Training

I. Scheduled and routine training on NAGPRA compliance is required of and will be proved to all applicable employees. Institution Representatives and Unit Representatives will provide proof of current trained status prior to engaging in NAGPRA compliance activities.

II. Training protocols will be reviewed and updated (if necessary) at least every two (2) years, to ensure compliance with current federal regulations and other applicable state and local laws.

K. General Reporting Obligations

I. Unit Representatives must report all NAGPRA compliance activities to the Institution Representative in a consistent and clear format and in a timely manner. This includes tribal communication (outside of formal consultation) and documentation provided to Authorized Tribal Representatives and the National NAGPRA Office. Such reports can be in either a digital or paper format but cannot be solely verbal.

II. The Institution Representative will report summaries of all NAGPRA compliance activities to the UW System NAGPRA Director in a consistent and clear format and in a timely manner. This includes tribal communication (outside of formal consultation) and documentation provided to Authorized Tribal Representatives and the National NAGPRA Office. Such reports can be in either a digital or paper format but cannot be solely verbal.

III. The Institution Representative will maintain comprehensive records of NAGPRA compliance.

L. Consequences of Noncompliance

Violations of this policy and/or associated policies, protocols, or procedures may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with Universities of Wisconsin and university policies and procedures. Note that NAGPRA law includes civil and criminal penalties for compliance violations. Please see the NAGPRA Enforcement webpage for further details.

7. Related Documents

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Public Law 101-601)
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Regulations)
RPD 3-2, Public Records Management
RPD 8-2, Tribal Consultation
SYS 645, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Compliance
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Policy Statement Regarding Treatment of Burial Sites, Human Remains and Funerary Objects
Wis. Stats. § 157.70

8. Policy History

First approved: June 4, 2024

9. Scheduled Review

June 2029