University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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An Update on NAGPRA at the University of Illinois

University of Illinois Quad with Foellinger Auditorium

Thanks to the efforts of numerous campus partners and units, the University of Illinois is another step closer to the implementation of full, coordinated NAGRPA compliance efforts across our university.

Signed into law in 1990, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is the US federal law that requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funds to transfer culturally affiliated human remains and associated funerary objects, culturally unaffiliated human remains and associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony to Native American tribes and lineal descendants.

In keeping with the requirements of NAGPRA, best practices among our peers, and the ethics of our institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is fully committed to the repatriation of our Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian collections that fall under NAGPRA. 

These NAGPRA activities are coordinated by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (OVCRI) and currently led by Dr. Jenny Davis, Chancellor’s Fellow of Indigenous Research and Ethics and Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology. As of January 2020 a search for a NAGPRA Program Officer is underway. Their activities will be informed by a NAGPRA Policies & Procedures Committee. Initially, committee members will develop policies and procedures for campus-wide NAGPRA compliance. Longer term, they will serve as an advisory board to campus NAGPRA compliance efforts and the NAGPRA Program Officer.

Coordinating efforts through one existing central campus office will facilitate fulfillment of our NAGPRA legal obligations in a timely manner and actively affirms the university’s commitment to respect the sovereignty of Native Nations in our research, teaching, and museum practices. In this process, it is our priority to engage in consultation with tribal communities and lineal descendants.

Read the full NAGPRA update announcement from Susan Martinis, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Robin Kaler.

OVCRI Webpage: NAGPRA and the University of Illinois