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NMSU Museum receives NAGPRA grant to consult Native American tribal groups

The University Museum at New Mexico State University recently received a Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Consultation/Documentation Grant from National Park Service to assist in consultation with Native American tribal groups pertaining to NAGPRA-related human remains and funerary objects.


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The New Mexico State University Museum recently received a Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Consultation/Documentation Grant from the National Park Service. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

“Since 1990, Federal law has provided for the repatriation and disposition of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony with culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. This is called Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” said Fumi Arakawa, associate professor of anthropology, University Museum director and principal investigator of the grant.

“The aim of the grant is to facilitate contact with culturally affiliated Indian tribal governments and to carry out the consultation pertaining to human remains and funerary objects curated at the University Museum with them.”

Arakawa will oversee and supervise several steps of this consultation process. Stan Berryman, NMSU affiliate anthropology faculty, will work as a contractor. An NMSU graduate student will also assist during the process.

“One NMSU graduate student will re-inventory all human remains and funerary items curated at the museum and develop a master database prior to the consultation meeting,” Arakawa said. “The graduate student will use this project as her non-thesis internship.”

Arakawa described the grant as government-to-government partnership, which will be enhanced through the support and involvement of NMSU’s administration with several Native American tribal groups.

The University Museum intends to work with partners identified during the NAGPRA process to continue the partner relationship beyond the NAGPRA undertaking into other museum activities, and the museum staff hopes to develop a Native American Advisory group based on the consultation and collaboration processes.

The project will run through September 30th, 2022. To learn more about the University Museum and its collections, please visit https://univmuseum.nmsu.edu/.