NPS finalizes NAGPRA rule on 'unidentifiable' ancestors
The National Park Service on Monday published a final rule to establish a process for addressing "unidentifiable" Native ancestors held by museums, educational institutions and federal agencies.

Under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, federal agencies and entities that receive federal funding are required to return human remains to their respective tribes. The new rule addresses ancestors that haven't been linked to a particular tribe or tribal group.

The rule requires entities to consult with tribes that historically lived in the area where the remains were discovered. When the parties reach agreement, a notice of action will be published in the Federal Register.

The rule streamlines the process because the Interior Secretary will no longer have to approve every single agreement.

According to NPS, more than 124,000 Native ancestors have been listed as "unidentifiable" under NAGPRA. About 4,000 have been repatriated to tribes under 82 agreements that had been individually by the Interior Secretary.

Get the Story:
New rule to prompt University of Michigan to re-examine holdings of Native American human remains ( 3/15)
Press Release: Process Established for Disposition of Native American Human Remains (NPS 3/15)

Federal Register Notice:
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Regulations--Disposition of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains; Final Rule (March 15, 2010)