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Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation in California State Parks

NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, (25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.,) is a United States federal law passed in November 1990. NAGPRA requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return Native American cultural items to their respective peoples. In addition, the Act establishes a program of federal grants to assist in the repatriation process and authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to assess civil penalties on museums that fail to comply.

Since 1990, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has successfully repatriated 82 California Indian collections containing the remains of a minimum of 168 individuals, as well as hundreds of funerary objects, and items of cultural patrimony. Information on NAGPRA's total number of recovered Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony have been published in the Federal Register.

Over the last two decades, NAGPRA compliance throughout the nation have included protection and repatriation of the following:

Human remains:
  38,671 individuals
Associated funerary objects:  998,731
Unassociated funerary objects:  144,163
Sacred objects:  4,303
Objects of cultural patrimony:  948
Objects that are both sacred and patrimonial:  822

Patrick Riordan, Assistant State Archaeologist, is DPR’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Coordinator. As the DPR-NAGPRA Coordinator, he is actively working with culturally affiliated tribes throughout the state to indentify and repatriate the remains of their ancestors and other cultural items.

The DPR-NAGPRA Coordinator is responsible for the Department’s compliance with NAGPRA and the receiving and review of repatriation claims and facilitating NAGPRA-required consultations. Other duties of the Coordinator include the preparation and presentation of information on tribal claims and consultation to designated Native American groups, maintaining permanent files of notifications and claims, representing the DPR’s repatriation program to California Indian tribes, other state agencies and the museum and archaeological communities. Recently, Patrick completed a NAGPRA inventory project for State Parks Colorado Desert District, the first of its kind for the Department. DPR is also engaging in consultation with California Indian tribes about the upcoming move of the Department’s cultural artifacts to a new DPR collection facilities at McClellan Park, a former Air Force base.

The web links below are recent notices from DPR that have been published in the Federal Register:

A Notice of Inventory Completion is published in the Federal Register when a collection contains culturally affiliated human remains and associated funerary objects.

Notice of Inventory Completion [Fed. Register Vol. 77, No. 63 (Monday, April 2, 2012)] Thee sites affiliated with Kumeyaay tribes http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nic1545.html

Notice of Inventory Completion [Fed. Register Vol. 77, No. 63 (Monday, April 2, 2012)] Thee sites affiliated with Cahuilla and Kumeyaay tribes http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nic1544.html

Notice of Inventory Completion [Fed. Register Vol. 77, No. 63 (Monday, April 2, 2012)] Ten sites affiliated with Cahuilla tribes http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nic1543.html

Notice of Inventory Completion [Fed. Register Vol. 77, No. 52 (Friday, March 16, 2012)] CA-SAC-199 http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nic1540.html

Notice of Inventory Completion [Fed. Register Vol. 77, No. 51 (Friday, March 16, 2012)] CA-LAK-425 http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nic1538.html


A Notice of Intent to Repatriate is published in the Federal Register when a collection contains culturally affiliated unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and items of cultural patrimony.

Notice of Intent to Repatriate [Fed. Register Volume 77, No. 63 (Monday, April 2, 2012)] Eight sites affiliated with Kumeyaay tribes http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nir0577.html

Notice of Intent to Repatriate [Fed. Register Volume 77, No. 63 (Monday, April 2, 2012)] 12 sites affiliated with Cahuilla and Kumeyaay tribes http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nir0576.html

Notice of Intent to Repatriate [Fed. Register Volume 77, No. 63 (Monday, April 2, 2012)] Ten sites affiliated with Cahuilla tribes http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nir0572.html