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Repatriation and NAGPRA Compliance
Byron Cummings, Arizona State Museum's first director, conducted the state's first repatriation in the 1930s. Since then, ASM has been a progressive, forward-thinking advocate for working with tribal colleagues on issues of the disturbance, recovery, documentation, respectful treatment, and return of human remains and associated funerary items.
The United States Congress enacted the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in November 1990, following a summer of testimony taken from stakeholders, including that of then-ASM Director Raymond H. Thompson, who had been asked by the American Association (now Alliance) of Museums to represent the country's major institutions.
Current ASM Director Patrick D. Lyons served on the national NAGPRA Review Committee (2016-2020), which monitors and reviews repatriation activities across the country.
Today, ASM's Repatriation Office manages one of the most active repatriation programs in the country, complying with federal law and administering the statutes pertaining to human remains and associated objects encountered on state and private land in Arizona (A.R.S. § 41-844 and § 41-865, respectively).
Repatriation totals 1986 to date:
- 122 Federal Register Notices Published
- 76 Repatriations Completed
- 17 Native American Tribes, 1 foreign government (Costa Rica), 1 other group (Los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson)
- 3,164 Sets of Human Remains
- 62,861 Funerary Objects
- 11 Sacred Objects (SOs)
- 224 Objects of Cultural Patrimony (OCPs)
- 110 Items considered both SOs and OCPs
Cristin Lucas, M.A.
Assistant Repatriation Coordinator
Arizona State Museum / University of Arizona
P.O. Box 210026
Tucson, AZ 85721-0026
James T. Watson, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Bioarchaeology