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IU to co-lead 2nd annual NAGPRA training

Jan 19, 2024

As revised regulations to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act go into effect this month, Indiana University is helping plan an intensive summer training to teach coordinators from across the country about the law and best practices for the repatriation of ancestral remains and cultural objects.

Workshop attendees pose for a large group photo IU hosted 40 attendees for an intensive summer NAGPRA training at IU Bloomington in 2023. Photo courtesy of Jayne-Leigh Thomas, Indiana University

This is the second year for the Intensive NAGPRA Summer Training and Education Program, which is a partnership between IU and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. This year’s event will take place on the University of Illinois campus from July 8 to 12 and is funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

“It’s critical to have ongoing conversations and training focused on the repatriation of Native American ancestral remains and artifacts, and IU is honored to help play a role in providing this crucial training for NAGPRA professionals from a diverse array of institutions,” said Russell J. Mumper, IU vice president for research.

The one-week intensive training will focus on the critical logistics of repatriation, including consultation, documentation, curation and other aspects of working with tribal nations and their ancestors. Participants will also have the opportunity to hear from several tribal practitioners with expertise in archaeology, museum studies, tribal government and NAGPRA compliance.

Participants of the 2023 training included tenured faculty, tribal elders, tribal archaeologists, government officials and postgraduate students. For many, it will be the only formal NAGPRA training they receive.

“One of the main problems is that people are given responsibility for NAGPRA compliance when they have had no training to do so,” IU NAGPRA Director Jayne-Leigh Thomas said. “There are limited resources available nationwide that are not cost prohibitive, and even less that explain step-by-step how to follow the law but incorporate ethical practices as well. Last year we had 94 applicants, and 10 percent were already NAGPRA coordinators, which really showed the need for this type of training,”

Applications for the program are due Feb. 1. Travel scholarships will be made available for tribal participants, and there is no cost for the training itself.

“We are very excited to host the 2024 INSTEP workshop on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus,” said Krystiana Krupa, the campus’s NAGPRA program officer. “It is our hope to extend this project into future years through sustainable funding sources, and we have received enthusiastic interest in hosting future workshops from several external partners.”

In addition to last year’s training, IU and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma also hosted the Department of the Interior’s annual NAGPRA Review Committee Meeting. This marked one of the first times in the meeting’s history that a university co-hosted the event with a tribe and the first time it was held in Indiana or any Midwestern state from which native populations were removed in the 1800s.


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Barbara Brosher

Executive Director of Storytelling and Research Communications

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