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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Anthropology

DUMA Native American collections

Museum of Anthropology

NAGPRA Community of Practice

The University of Denver is leading an initiative to develop a network of practitioners to support implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This community of practice will bring together individuals with all levels of NAGPRA expertise to connect, collaborate, and increase capacity.

NAGPRA is a Federal law passed in 1990 that provides a process for lineal descendants, Native American Tribes, and Native American Hawaiian Organizations  to request the return of human remains and certain cultural items from museums and federal agencies. Learn more

Nearly thirty years after the passage of NAGPRA, there is still misunderstanding and confusion within some parts of the museum community regarding its requirements and procedures. However, there are many experts on NAGPRA across the US eager to assist their colleagues.


We are conducting a nation-wide survey of museum professionals and NAGPRA representatives of tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, and federal and state agencies. Our goal is to develop a picture of NAGPRA implementation 30 years in and to identify opportunities for the future.

Please take a moment to lend your voice to the conversation! This survey is anonymous and will take about 10 minutes. We ask that you answer the questions as completely and honestly as possible. Your feedback will be used to inform the scope and direction of this community of practice.

We want to talk to as many people as possible, so please share the survey with colleagues and organizations engaged in this work.

Take the survey here.

Get involved

Do you work with a museum, Native American tribe, Native Hawaiian Organization, or federal or state agency? We need your input as we pilot this initiative. Add your email and receive project updates and info on how to connect and collaborate.


PROJECT Overview

A summit was held March 25-26,  2019. The summit brought together individuals with NAGPRA expertise specifically in museums to identify issues and brainstorm opportunities for the future. More on the summit here .

During summit discussions, participants suggested a listserv would help practitioners connect, ask questions, and share their own experiences with others. That listserv is now live and you can sign up for it here .

The summit and the larger initiative to create a network of NAGPRA practitioners across the U.S. began with a focus on implementation in museums. Based on survey results, summit discussions, and conversations with practitioners across the NAGPRA community, we believe implementation in museums will only improve if NAGPRA practitioners from museums, tribes, federal and state agencies, and other disciplines, can come together to learn from each other. As a result, NAGPRA implementation should improve not only in museums but across the NAGPRA community.

The NAGPRA Community of Practice will be for all practitioners.

The biggest priority post-summit is expanding our conversation about how a NAGPRA Community of Practice can support all practitioners and improve implementation. This conversation must include a broader representation of NAGPRA practitioners. One way we plan on accomplishing that, is bringing the conversation to national, regional, and local conferences, trainings, and other gatherings that NAGPRA practitioners already attend. If you are interested in helping spread the word, please contact Anne Amati . Additional proposed activities include creating a space for a virtual community of practice that would support discussions, be a clearinghouse of NAGPRA resources, and connect individuals for peer-to-peer mentoring.

2020 Conference

The University of Denver will host a conference recognizing the 30th anniversary of NAGPRA in the fall of 2020. The conference will be open to the public and will be an opportunity for the NAGPRA community to come together. Presentations will focus on looking to the future and considering how we can better work together to tackle the large amount of NAGPRA work left to be done.

Project Information

Project Staff
Anne Amati
Project Director and DUMA NAGPRA Coordinator/Registrar
(p) 303-871-2687 | [email protected]

Lydia Degn-Sutton
Research Assistant

This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services MG-70-18-0050-18 . Please contact Principal Investigator Anne Amati, MA, if you have any questions or would like additional information at [email protected] .