Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Efforts

NOTICE: The Colorado Lands Repatriation and Reinterment Workgroup is now accepting requests for reburial locations for Native American human remains and funerary objects. Please email Kathryn Redhorse, Executive Director of Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, at kathryn.redhorse@state.co.us for a copy of the request form.

History Colorado Involvement

History Colorado is a charitable organization and an agency of the State of Colorado under the Department of Higher Education. It is Colorado's lead agency in coordinating and dealing with Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) related items. Over the years, the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs and History Colorado have partnered with the state's responsibility in implementing the provisions of the 1990 act. 

History Colorado's NAGPRA program philosophy is summarized in the following statement: 

NAGPRA calls for the establishment of new relationships between museums and Native Americans-relationships that reflect a spirit of cooperative interaction and partnership. 

It is of critical importance that History Colorado staff and administrators support an approach to NAGPRA issues that reflects a commitment to sustaining such relationships. This requires open and full communication with interested Native American communities and lineal descendants regarding History Colorado collections, as well as an institutional intent to consider repatriation claims for human remains and objects that fall under the law.

About the NAGPRA Program

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was enacted on November 16, 1990, to address the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to Native American cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. The Act assigned implementation responsibilities to the Secretary of the Interior. Staff support is provided by the National NAGPRA Program, including:

  • Publishing notices for museums and Federal agencies in the Federal Register,
  • Creating and maintaining databases, including the Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains Inventories (CUI) Database,
  • Making grants to assist museums, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations in fulfilling NAGPRA,
  • Assessing civil penalties on museums that fail to comply with provisions of the Act,
  • Providing staff support to the NAGPRA Review Committee and for the Annual Report to Congress
  • Providing technical assistance to Federal agencies where there are excavations and discoveries of cultural items on Federal and Indian lands,
  • Promulgating implementing regulations, and
  • Providing technical assistance through training, website information, reports prepared for the Review Committee, supporting law enforcement investigations and direct personal service.


Memorandum of Understanding: Regarding the Reburial of Native American Human Remains and Funerary Objects (PDF)

Colorado's NAGPRA Process Protocol (PDF)