Tuesday, October 12, 2010


20 years after the inauguration of the National Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), California’s own NAGPRA law (or Cal NAGPRA) has been effectively quashed by a lack of state funding.

Cal NAGPRA was enacted in 2001 in an attempt to force California institutions with large Native American collections to return objects to their culturally affiliated descendants. The bill (AB 978) aimed to “streamline and add an accountability step to the repatriation process” to both federally and non-federally recognized tribes. Unlike other states, California does not have a process of recognition for federally unrecognized tribes. Consequently, the state has over a hundred such tribes, the highest number in the country.

The legislation was conceived after several university museums, particularly UC Berkley’s Hearst Museum, were accused by Native American tribal leaders of sidestepping National NAGPRA regulations and ignoring local tribal demands for the return of hundreds of thousands of sacred objects and ancestral remains.

“The bill came about because tribes were not consulted by the universities to establish cultural affiliations with property and remains,” said Lalo Franco of the Yokut/Wukchumni Nations and the cultural heritage director of the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe.

rest at