The end of Cal Nagpra?


A law requiring California institutions to return Native American cultural artifacts has been effectively quashed by lack of funding and new legislation

20 years after the inauguration of the National Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), California’s own NAGPRA law (or Cal NAGPRA) has been effectively quashed by a lack of state funding.

Cal NAGPRA was enacted in 2001 in an attempt to force California institutions with large Native American collections to return objects to their culturally affiliated descendants. The bill (AB 978) aimed to “streamline and add an accountability step to the repatriation process” to both federally and non-federally recognized tribes. Unlike other states, California does not have a process of recognition for federally unrecognized tribes. Consequently, the state has over a hundred such tribes, the highest number in the country.

The legislation was conceived after several university museums, particularly UC Berkley’s Hearst Museum, were accused by Native American tribal leaders of sidestepping National NAGPRA regulations and ignoring local tribal demands for the return of hundreds of thousands of sacred objects and ancestral remains. >>READ MORE

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