NAGPRA Program

History Colorado has adopted an active program of implementing the provisions of the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Our NAGPRA program philosophy is summarized in the following statement:

Program Philosophy

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 communications 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.

History Colorado values our relationships with Tribal Partners as we navigate the new Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Regulations that went into effect on Jan 12, 2024. History Colorado recognizes that as we move forward our practices may need to adjust or change as new guidance comes to light. We also recognize that consent today does not equal consent in the future and that consultation with Native American and Indigenous Peoples on how to present their histories is an ongoing process that cannot be rushed.

In regards to our current exhibitions focused on Native history – The Sand Creek Massacre: The Betrayal that Changed Cheyenne and Arapaho People Forever; Written on the Land: Ute Voices, Ute History; and Living West – these have all been developed in consultation with the Tribes whose histories are represented within these exhibitions. These Tribes, and all of the 48 sovereign nations who continue to call this land home, help us plan and revise exhibitions; preserve, and interpret artifacts; do archaeological work; tell the stories of Colorado's original peoples in our publications; and create educational programs to share the history of Colorado.


History Colorado’s NAGPRA program is implemented by a team composed of the following persons:

  • History Colorado NAGPRA Collections Specialist, NAGPRA Team Leader
  • Curator of Indigenous Culture & Heritage
  • History Colorado Head of Collections Management & Registration
  • Colorado State Archaeologist
  • Colorado Staff Archaeologist
  • Executive Director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs
  • Interagency Tribal Liaison of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs

Consultation Meetings

NAGPRA compliance is vested in the State Historic Preservation Office. Consultation meetings have included discussion of cultural affiliation for Native American human remains and other cultural objects subject to NAGPRA, development of policies and procedures for the care and treatment of human remains and collections, and collections reviews.

Process for Native American Human Remains from State and Private Lands

History Colorado formed a partnership with the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to develop a standing process entitled the Process for Consultation, Transfer and Reburial of Culturally Unidentifiable Native American Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects Originating from State and Private Lands(Process). Grant funds allowed consultation with forty-five additional tribes with ancestral ties to Colorado, who contributed to development of the Process.  The Process allows for the respectful and expedient disposition (transfer of control) of “culturally unidentifiable” individuals and works within state law (24-80-1301ff) and NAGPRA. It was developed when NAGPRA did not have regulations for “culturally unidentifiable” individuals and is still in place for those individuals currently not covered by federal law (43 C.F.R. 10.11).

You can view the full details of the Colorado Human Remains Process Protocol here →


History Colorado Repatriations

History Colorado NAGPRA / Repatriations: For more information about History Colorado repatriations or general NAGPRA questions, please contact Chance Ward (Lakota), NAGPRA Collections Specialist at or (303) 866-5751.

If you are looking to report human remains and/or funerary items. In accordance with Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) 24-80-1302, any person who discovers on any land suspected human skeletal remains or who knowingly disturbs such remains shall immediately notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county wherein the remains are located and the sheriff, police chief, or land managing agency official.  It is the responsibility of the county or land managing officials to contact the State Archaeologist, Dr. Holly Norton at or