Published on Apr 21, 2023
Washington, DC | The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) commends the bipartisan group of U.S. Senators who have urged universities and museums to comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA). U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Vice Chairman of the Committee, have led this effort to ensure that Native American ancestral remains and cultural items are returned to their rightful communities.
The Senators sent letters to the University of California - Berkeley, Harvard University, Illinois State Museum, Indiana University, and the Ohio History Connection following media reports that these institutions have not fulfilled their obligation to return Native American cultural items and ancestral remains pursuant to NAGPRA.
NCAI President Fawn Sharp issued a statement commending the Senators' bipartisan efforts. "For centuries, our cultural items, our sacred items, and our ancestors have been taken from us and kept from us, but today's efforts acknowledge what we have long said: there is no acceptable reason to continue this practice and no acceptable reason for delays—now is the time to right this historic and ongoing wrong," Sharp said.
NCAI supports the Senators' call to action and calls on all institutions of higher education to comply with NAGPRA and return Native American cultural items and ancestral remains to their rightful owners. This is an essential step toward acknowledging the historic and ongoing wrongs inflicted upon American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the United States. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies. NCAI promotes an understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people, and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.