In 1990, when Congress passed a law that set criteria under which federally recognized Native American tribes could reclaim ancient burial remains and sacred objects, legislators hoped to encourage the return of items by museums and other institutions. But more than three decades later, some officials acknowledge that the law, known as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, has not been as effective as they had hoped. The remains of more than 116,000 Native American ancestors are still held by institutions around the country, and the National Park Service says that, for nearly all of them, the institutions have not linked the remains to a particular tribe, a designation known as "culturally affiliated" that allows Indigenous groups to reclaim the bones of their forebears. "This is first and foremost an issue of Indigenous rights," said Veronica Pasfield, a NAGPRA officer for the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan. "The right to protect the graves of your ancestors and relatives is one of the most fundamental human rights on the planet." But now the Biden administration is seeking to make regulatory adjustments that would help expedite repatriation proceedings and require museums to complete the process of identifying… Read full this story
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