The UC Office of the President issued the new UC Policy on Native American Cultural Affiliation and Repatriation on December 22, 2021. This follows many iterations to incorporate revisions to the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA) under AB 2836 and AB 275, and important feedback from numerous stakeholders, including California Native American Tribes.
NAGPRA requires museums, agencies and universities to compile detailed summaries and inventories, consult with Native American tribes, and follow a process to return human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony that meet the requirements outlined in the law and are claimed by a tribe or tribes. For the purpose of clarity, on this website we use the terms within the legal texts we act through, although in conversation with our team you will notice we actually use the terms “ancestors” and “belongings” as is more culturally accurate.
NAGPRA covers five different categories: human remains, associated and unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony. Human remains fall into two groups 1) those that can be culturally affiliated or connected to a modern day tribe or tribes which are federally recognized and 2) those that cannot are considered to be culturally unidentifiable. Funerary objects are items that are reasonably believed to have been placed with individual human remains either at the time of death, or later, as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture. In the event the museum holds both the human remains and funerary objects, the funerary objects are considered associated. In the event the human remains are not in the possession of a museum, objects are considered unassociated. Sacred objects are specific ceremonial objects which are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents. An object of cultural patrimony is an object having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group, rather than property owned by an individual Native American, and which, therefore, cannot be alienated, appropriated, or conveyed by any individual.
Also see the FAQs produced by the Special Advisor which speaks to general questions about Native American and Indigenous peoples.