Via The Minnesota Daily, December 1, 2022
The University of Minnesota possesses collections of Native American ancestor remains and associated funerary objects that were supposed to be repatriated to their respective Tribes more than 30 years ago.
The Board of Regents approved the University to begin the repatriation process at the February board meeting. The University began an initial inventory in June and the final inventory is due in December.
The Mimbres-cultural collections the University possesses are from grave sites the anthropology department excavated in New Mexico nearly 100 years ago and are most likely affiliated with Pueblo Tribes, including the Hopi Nation.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990 required the University to inventory and return the collections under federal law, however, the University did not comply with these regulations for 32 years.
Melanie O’Brien, the national NAGPRA program manager, sent a letter to University President Joan Gabel in December 2021 urging for the University’s immediate compliance with NAGPRA.
“The University’s confusion might have been understandable in 1993, when it submitted its summary to the National Park Service,” O’Brien said. “But from December 4, 1995 and thereafter, the University knew or should have known that the funerary objects in question are associated funerary objects, and that they must be included in an inventory.”