Project Title

To Be or Not to Be Effective: Negotiating NAGPRA Law in the Southeastern United States

Presenters

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Geography & Anthropology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Brandon D. Lundy

Abstract (300 words maximum)

The Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was enacted in the United States in 1990 to return the patrimony of and protect the rights that Native Americans have concerning their physical remains and cultural property held in public collections throughout the United States. Before 1990, these ethical issues were dealt with at the institutional levels and researchers rarely considered these ethical dilemmas when digging up and curating Native American cultural heritage. This law has dramatically affected the study of Native Americans. This research, which focuses on the Southeastern United States, provides valuable insights into the positive and negative effects NAGPRA has had on archaeology, anthropology, Native American studies, museums, and the overall treatment of human remains in general since its implementation. The researcher will conduct semi-structured interviews through purposive sampling with archaeology and anthropology professors at universities and employees at museums that hold Native American cultural heritage. The researcher will also conduct direct observations at museums to observe how patrons react to displays of Native American artifacts. The anticipated results will likely show a complex mix of both positive and negative outcomes related to the implementation of the NAGPRA law both hindering potentially valuable research on Native Americans and their cultural history, while positively forcing ethical considerations into the overall research process. NAGPRA law may need to be amended in order to allow for a more cohesive relationship between Native American groups and the researchers who work closely with them including further considerations about indigenous researchers working within their own communities.

Keywords: NAGPRA; Cultural Heritage; Artifacts; Native Americans; Indigenous; Southeastern United States

Project Type

Poster

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To Be or Not to Be Effective: Negotiating NAGPRA Law in the Southeastern United States

The Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was enacted in the United States in 1990 to return the patrimony of and protect the rights that Native Americans have concerning their physical remains and cultural property held in public collections throughout the United States. Before 1990, these ethical issues were dealt with at the institutional levels and researchers rarely considered these ethical dilemmas when digging up and curating Native American cultural heritage. This law has dramatically affected the study of Native Americans. This research, which focuses on the Southeastern United States, provides valuable insights into the positive and negative effects NAGPRA has had on archaeology, anthropology, Native American studies, museums, and the overall treatment of human remains in general since its implementation. The researcher will conduct semi-structured interviews through purposive sampling with archaeology and anthropology professors at universities and employees at museums that hold Native American cultural heritage. The researcher will also conduct direct observations at museums to observe how patrons react to displays of Native American artifacts. The anticipated results will likely show a complex mix of both positive and negative outcomes related to the implementation of the NAGPRA law both hindering potentially valuable research on Native Americans and their cultural history, while positively forcing ethical considerations into the overall research process. NAGPRA law may need to be amended in order to allow for a more cohesive relationship between Native American groups and the researchers who work closely with them including further considerations about indigenous researchers working within their own communities.

Keywords: NAGPRA; Cultural Heritage; Artifacts; Native Americans; Indigenous; Southeastern United States