Nagpra representative work
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Nagpra representative work
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon1Issues in Repatriation: an examination of NAGPRACultures native to an area and immigrant cultures have interacted, in variousdegrees and impacts upon one another, since the era of divergent cultures. TheUnited States is a country that contemporarily withholds and defines the tangibledifferences between these two alternate schools of thought. Inter-cultural impactsand interactions often become necessary when viewed from the opinions andactions of archaeologists, whom wish for the correct and scientific preservation ofarchaeological sites and artifacts. Secondly lays the opinions of Native American andHawaiian Tribes, whom often wish for Archaeologists to make explicit their goals,which often lie in opposition of Native American and Hawaiian Tribes. Scientificpreservation and curation of artifacts may be accepted by the scientific communitywhereas the Native American and Hawaiian Tribal may perceive these actions as thetheft and mistreatment of items of cultural patrimony. This sentiment is as true inthe United States as it is elsewhere globally. More often than not, the line betweentheft and preservation becomes distorted because of the different interested parties’opinions and involvement with an archaeological site. The Native American GravesProtection and Repatriation Act (known as NAGPRA) is a piece of legislation thatwas passed by Congress in 1990 with the intention of requiring the repatriation ofitems and artifacts of cultural significance, held or housed by agencies, museums,and universities that receive federal funding, to their provable, contemporary linealor cultural descendants (Cortes-Rincon 2012). Upon the passing of NAGPRA, the
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon2new law mandated that all federally-funded agencies, museums, and instituteswhich withhold or curate Native American ancestral remains and cultural items,must repatriate such items to the respective tribes that can demonstrate culturaland/or genetic affiliation with the aforementioned items (King 2008). One mustnote that the NAGPRA only extends jurisdiction as far as the funding they provideand does not address the repatriation of Native American and Hawaiian ancestralremains and cultural items held in private collections. Under the guise of NAGPRA,all federally-funded agencies, museums, and institutes must undergo the tediousprocess of identification (or re-identification) of all artifacts of cultural significance,as well as the process of repatriation of those artifacts to their respective originalowners (Cortes-Rincon 2012; King 2008). The necessity of an artifact inventory hasactually caused some museums to ‘discover’ collections that have long been lost orforgotten in storage. In most cases, an, or the original owner refers to the linealdescendants of Native Americans and Native Hawaiian cultures to which theartifact(s) belonged (Toner 2010: 9-10). More than twenty years beyond the passingof NAGPRA, efforts to identify and repatriate items of significant cultural heritageare still ongoing and have been met with significant accomplishments andchallenges (Cortes-Rincon 2012). Such accomplishments and challenges allow for,and require: the increased discussion of, the requisite debate of, and furtherdecision-making regarding the repatriation and/or curation of artifacts of NativeAmerican and Hawaiian cultural significance (Cortes-Rincon 2012; King 2008).
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon3As stated by Toner, NAGPRA has engendered collaboration betweenarchaeologists and Native American and Native Hawaiian groups in order to returncultural items to their original owners (Toner 2010: 9). Despite the underlying goalof repatriation, NAGPRA has created as schism between the scientific and NativeAmerican communities. This disagreement hinges on the difference between thearguments and goals of the two alternate preservationist communities; the NativeAmerican community goal of preservation often revolves around the preservation ofartifacts and sites through efforts of non-disturbance, while, until recently, thescientific goal of preservation was through the collection and curation artifacts.(King 2008). Whereas archaeologists wish to accomplish the scientific study anddocumentation of the first peoples that inhabited the Americas, Native Americanspursue the repatriation of Native American and Hawaiian human remains andcultural artifacts (Toner 2010). The scientific-based argument is aptly expressed bythe president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, DennisO’Rourke (Toner 2010: 10-11). He is quoted by Toner as arguing that the,“‘wholesale reburial of [Native American] indigenous history’, would have,‘devastating consequences’” (Toner 2010: 11). O’Rourke may be referring to the lossof scientific knowledge that may be attained through the study of collected artifacts.Alternatively, Toner includes the opinions and sentiments of Brenda ShemaymeEdwards on NAGPRA; Edwards is the chairwoman of the Cado Nation of Oklahoma(Toner 2010). Brenda Shemayme Edwards is quoted by Toner as saying that, “It is
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon4sad that our ancestors continue to be regarded as natural resources instead ofhuman beings” (Toner 2010: 11).As defined by NAGPRA, cultural items may consist of objects of culturalpatrimony, sacred objects, funerary objects, and human remains (Dumont 2011).NAGPRA dictated that the inventory of such items housed in federally-fundedinstitutions must be completed by 1995 (Cortes-Rincon 2012). Multiple factorscontributed to the missing of that timed goal, including the sheer number of artifactsthat require inventory and the reluctance of some institutions to repatriate objectsof cultural patrimony (Dumont 2011; Cortes-Rincon 2012). NAGPRA also dictatesthat these cultural items may only be returned to the lineal or cultural descendantsof Native American and Hawaiian Tribes whom are federally recognized (Cortez-Rincon 2012). This poses significant problems because, firstly, not all living NativeAmerican and Hawaiian Tribes have federal recognition, and secondly, to proveone’s lineal and/or cultural descent can be very difficult to determine (Toner 2010:11-12). It is interesting to note that NAGPRA officials keep track of culturallyidentifiable and unidentifiable artifacts that are inventoried and offered up forrepatriation while they do not track the actual number of artifacts returned (Toner2010: 11). Some further definitions defined in NAGPRA include the provisionregarding items that are determined to be culturally unidentifiable. As indicated,some cultural objects and artifacts were collected and catalogued in an incompletemanner—regarding background data—or were collected without any provenience
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon5at all (Toner 2010: 9-12; Cortes-Rincon 2012). As a result, these objects with anincomplete or missing provenience are often labeled as culturally unidentifiable(Toner 2010: 11). Once deemed culturally unidentifiable, these artifacts becomemuch more difficult to claim for Native American and Hawaiian Tribes. NAGPRAdictates that these culturally unidentifiable artifacts must be archived—nowpossible to accomplish in digital, online formats—in order to provide a means forNative American and Hawaiian Tribal review, possibly leading to identification ofthe artifact’s cultural affiliation and eventual repatriation (Toner 2010: 9-12). As ofrecently, just under 124,000 sets of Native American and Native Hawaiian humanremains remain classified as culturally unidentifiable nationally (Toner 2010: 10).This number lies in juxtaposition with Government Accountability Office (GAO)statistics regarding NAGPRA; according to the GAO, twenty years of NAGPRA effortshave led to only fifty-five per cent of inventoried human remains and sixty-eightpercent of inventoried associated funerary objects being offered for, and repatriatedto Native American and Hawaiian Tribes (Toner 2010: 10-11). As mentioned earlier,bias can play a role in NAGPRA. Just as any other piece of legislation, NAGPRAcontains possible flaws and accompanying possible revisions. The GAO has reportedthat the NAGPRA committee has acted outside of the legal boundaries set byNAGPRA in such actions as returning culturally unidentifiable remains to Tribesthat lack federal recognition or to coalitions of Tribes (Toner 2010: 9-12).
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon6It is important at this time to discuss other relevant laws and legislationregarding the repatriation of use right to such things as traditional culturalproperties and sacred sites. One such law is the American Indian Religious FreedomAct (AIRFA) of 1978, which of many things reversed the previous BIA prohibition ofNative American religious practices such as the White Deer Skin Dance and thePotlatch (Rovier 2012). Such religious practices are often the events to whichrepatriated items are required for correct practice (King 2008). AIFRA also hasstipulations mandating that governmental undertakings must be reviewed—withthe involvement of the affected local Tribal authorities—in terms of possible andplausible impacts to the practice of traditional religion prior to the beginning of aproject (King 2008). Significant to this law is the intentional wording that protectsthe action of religious practice, not necessarily limited to the designation ofprotecting individual physical locations (King 2008). Executive order 13007 speaksdirectly to the protection of Native American and Hawaiian sacred sites on federalor Native American and Hawaiian lands (King 2008). Executive Order 13007 differsfrom the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in terms of scope; whereasExecutive Order 13007 mitigates impacts to sacred sites, NHPA is tasked with theprotection of historical properties on federal or Native American and Hawaiianlands (King 2008).Culturally affiliated artifacts currently housed in federally-funded orsupported museums and universities California are vastly outnumbered by those
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon7curated by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management (Toner2010: 9-12). Since the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Managementare federally funded, those agencies must comply with NAGPRA as well (Dumont2011; Cortes-Rincon 2012). A United States Fish and Wildlife Service Archaeologistreported to the GAO that an inventory of all culturally affiliated items—held just bythe USFWS—could take as many as twenty-eight years to accomplish (Toner 2010:11-12).The museums, agencies, and universities receiving federal funding differ interms of the similarities and differences between their NAGPRA plans, coordination,and resulting actions. As recently as 2007, UC Berkeley eliminated the NAGPRAoversight unit at the on-campus Phoebe Hearst Museum (Anonymous 2007). Inresponse to this elimination, the Native American NAGPRA Coalition was formedfrom representatives from five different Native American Tribes as a protest againstthe decision (Anonymous 2007). One of the enduring goals of the Native AmericanNAGPRA Coalition is to express the fact that tribal consultation was not soughtbefore the oversight-removal decision was made (Anonymous 2007). WesleyanUniversity, of Connecticut, has violated sections five and six of NAGPRA(Anonymous 2011). Section five of NAGPRA requires that all possibly affected tribesbe consulted when regarding artifact inventory while section six of NAGPRA statesthat federally-funded agencies, museums, or institutions must provide completelists of artifacts curated in such facilities to interested parties (Anonymous 2011). A
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon8year-long audit by the Government Accountability Office, completed in 2010,concluded that federal-funded agencies, museums, and universities have failed tocomply with NAGPRA (Anonymous 2010). Included in the GAO report was therestatement of the section of NAGPRA law that dictates repatriation activities mustbe reported and provided to those whom request. Despite realizing somerepatriation of items of cultural patrimony, the GAO concluded that the U.S. ArmyCorps of Engineers, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service have notprovided such repatriation reports of their progress to any Tribe or agency.As specified by Robert McConnell, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer(THPO) of the Yurok tribe, loss of items and artifacts of cultural patrimony is notjust an issue of the past; contemporarily, McConnell shares that looting is, “a dailyissue” (McConnell 2012). The Yurok Tribe is the largest in California and was alsothe first Tribe in California to create a Tribal Historic Preservation Office and theaccompanying position of Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (McConnell 2012). Atthe time the Yurok created their Tribal Historic Preservation Office, there werefourteen THPOs nationally. Despite a sharp rise in the number of THPOs to over 140nationally, the federal fiscal budget for THPOs has not increased, leading to theincreased dilution of already sparse funds McConnell 2012). In December of 2008,James Truhls was arrested on charges of looting—his second arrest in under threeyears for the same reason—grave sites from a prehistoric and historic Yurok villagesite (Yurok Today 2009).
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon9The opinions and reactions of Native Americans, Native Hawaiians,anthropologists and archaeologists to NAGPRA vary greatly. Bruce D. Smith, curatorof North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution has claimed that therepatriation of cultural items “would be an incalculable loss to science” (Toner2010: 10-11). Conversely, Bambi Kraus—the president of the National Associationof Tribal Historic Preservation Officers—states that, “after twenty years of NAGPRA,only about twenty per cent of our ancestors have been returned—a rate of aboutone per cent a year” (Toner 2010: 10-11). Following that rate of repatriation, theremaining artifacts would take another eighty years to repatriate. Fine-Dare (2005:176) quotes Lakota anthropologist Bea Medicine as saying that, “thedisenchantment with anthropology as a discipline and [with] the anthropologist as‘officious meddler’ is still a part of the fabric of research in reservation and urbancommunities. This disdain may increase as issues of repatriation and intellectualproperty rights escalate”. Patricia Capone is the associate curator at HarvardUniversity’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Toner 2010: 11-12).She is quoted by Toner in the article “NAGPRA at Twenty” as saying that theinteraction between the Peabody Museum and numerous Tribal organizations has,“provided a valuable context and rich cultural connections for the research we do”(Toner 2010: 11-12). The Karuk Tribe’s (of Northern California) THPO (TribalHistoric Preservation Officer) has worked in the past with the Peabody museum andhas stated that she witnessed many artifacts held at the Peabody that are incorrectlylabeled (Rovier 2012).
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon10NAGPRA, when passed, was a revolution in regards Native American andHawaiian’s right to reclaim items of cultural heritage. The issue of repatriation willcontinued to be discussed and refined well into the future. Included in thisdiscussion will be some of the difficulties implementing and enforcing legislationsuch as NAGPRA. Also, some serious thought must be given to the issue ofrepatriating items of cultural patrimony that are held in places not influenced byNAGPRA. Despite all of the identifiable shortcomings of NAGPRA, it was a precedent-setting piece of legislation that has led to the return of some important culturalartifacts, and led to opening the floor to the debate of indigenous rights andanthropology.
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon11BibliographyAnonymous..The Circle: News from an American Indian Perspective. August 1st, Vol. 28,Issue 8, 2007: 3.AnonymousThe Circle: News from an American Indian Perspective. August 1st, Vol. 31,Issue 8, 2010: 3.AnonymousThe Circle: News from an American Indian Perspective. February 1st, Vol. 32,Issue 2, 2011: 2.Cortes-Rincon, MarisolNAGPRA (lecture notes), HSU ANTH 374 class, February 21st, 2012.Dumont, Jr., Clayton W.Contesting Scientists Narrations of NAGPRAs Legislative History. Wicazo SaReview 26, no. 1 (Spring2011): 5-41.Fine-Dare, Kathleen S.Anthropological suspicion, public interest and NAGPRA. Journal of SocialArchaeology 2005, 5: 171-192.King, Thomas F.Cultural Resources: Laws and Practice.McConnell, RobertYurok Tribe guest lecture (lecture notes), HSU ANTH 374, February 14th,2012.Rovier, HeleneKaruk THPO guest lecture (lecture notes), HSU ANTH 374, March 20th, 2012.Toner, Mike
Nic GrosjeanANTH 374Dr. Cortes-Rincon12NAGPRA AT 20. Illinois Antiquity 45, no. 4 (December 2010): 9-12.