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:
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.
The NAGPRA Team
History Colorado’s NAGPRA program is implemented by a team composed of the following persons:
History Colorado NAGPRA Liaison, NAGPRA Team leader
History Colorado Registrar
Colorado State Archaeologist
Colorado Staff Archaeologist
Executive Secretary of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs
Colorado State Historian
History Colorado Director, Collections and Library Division
NAGPRA compliance is vested in the State Historic Preservation Office. As of January 2015, History Colorado has received 19 National Park Service NAGPRA grants. These have enabled us to conduct 308 consultation meetings with more than sixty tribes. 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 “Culturally Unidentifiable” Native American Human Remains
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).
History Colorado Repatriations
History Colorado has repatriated 833 individuals and 2103 funerary objects. All repatriations have been reported on “Notices of Inventory Completion” in the Federal Register.