NPS urged to take Alaska Native corporations off NAGPRA list

Alaska Native corporations "must not" be included in the list of federally recognized tribes kept by the National NAGPRA Program, according to the Interior Department's Office of the Solicitor.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funds to repatriate ancestors and artifacts to the appropriate "Indian tribe." Section 2 of the law defines "Indian tribe" as
[A]ny tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians, including any Alaska Native village (as defined in, or established pursuant to, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.

Federally recognized Alaska Native villages fall under the definition, according to a memo from the Solicitor's Office. But Alaska Native regional and village corporations do not.

"In conclusion, NAGPRA clearly does not include Alaska regional and village corporations within its definition of Indian tribes. Furthermore, the legislative history confirms that this was an intentional omission on the part of Congress," Solicitor Edith Blackwell told National NAGPRA Program Director Sherry Hutt in the March 18 memo.

Blackwell noted that existing NAGPRA regulations that include Alaska Native village and regional corporations will have to be changed in order to comply with the actual text of the law. She recommended the change be made "as soon as feasible."

"The change to the regulations and the list required by the statutory definition would mean that the Alaska regional and village corporations could not be the primary entities for purposes of consultation, claims, repatriation, disposition, or grants under NAGPRA,"

Relevant Documents:
Solicitor's Memo to NPS (March 18, 2011)

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