On November 16, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) [P.L. 101-601; 25 USC 3001-3013, 104 Stat. 3048-3058] (Appendix A). Final regulations were published on December 4, 1995 [43 C.F.R. 10] (Appendix B) and reserved sections have been promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior since that time. NAGPRA was enacted to provide rights to lineal descendants, federally recognized Native American tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to specified Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony and the means by which to exercise these rights. NAGPRA is applicable to all institutions and agencies in the United States that receive federal funds, excluding the Smithsonian Institution. All institutions and agencies must comply with NAGPRA provisions and cooperate with Indian tribes in identifying and repatriating the NAGPRA-qualifying ancestors and objects. NAGPRA also applies to the Inadvertent Discovery of ancestors and funerary objects on Federal and Tribal lands.
The Osage Nation is a sovereign, self-governing, federally-recognized Indian tribe. The Osage Nation Historic Preservation Office (ONHPO) carries out the Osage Nation’s rights to repatriation and disposition of ancestors and cultural objects affiliated with the Osage Nation and covered by NAGPRA. By proclamation of the Osage people, the preservation, management, and revitalization of Osage history and culture is paramount to the identity and future of our Nation. The ONHPO is active in exercising Osage rights to the repatriation or disposition of ancestral remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. Pursuing compliance with NAGPRA as a federal law is, in essence, an exercise in tribal sovereignty. The administrative, property, and civil rights that are guaranteed to the Osage Nation by NAGPRA are necessary to maintaining Osage identity and tradition and respectfully preserving Osage heritage for future generations.
The ONHPO consults with institutions and agencies to ensure that culturally affiliated Osage ancestors and Osage cultural items are identified, handled, and repatriated in an appropriate manner. The Osage elders of the Traditional Cultural Advisors Committee (TCA) provide guidance in determining appropriate disposition and assist in the identification of Osage cultural items. NAGPRA activities are considered a private and highly sensitive matter. The ONHPO, following the guidance of Osage elders, does not provide comment on specific active consultations. The ONHPO does regularly provide guidance and trainings on NAGPRA best practices and participates actively to ensure museums and agencies are correctly responding to the requirements of NAGPRA and the Osage Nation.
Osage Nation Designated NAGPRA Points of Contact:
Dr. Andrea A. Hunter, THPO and Director of the Osage Nation Historic Preservation Office
Sarah R. O’Donnell, NAGPRA Coordinator