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The Repatriation Database Data from Nov. 29, 2023

Illinois State Museum

Located in Illinois · Read the institution’s response

The Illinois State Museum has the 2nd largest collection of unrepatriated Native American remains in the U.S. The institution reported still having the remains of at least 7,100 Native Americans that it has not made available for return to tribes.

The institution has made available for return 3% of the more than 7,300 Native American remains that it reported to the federal government.

remains of 196 Native Americans made available for return to tribes
remains of at least 7,110 Native Americans not made available for return

Where Native American remains reported by the Illinois State Museum were taken from

Each county is a peak
Height is the minimum amount of remains taken from county, as reported by institution
Color is reported rate of remains made available for return to tribes
Institution reported no remains taken from these counties
Location of institution
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Note: The Illinois State Museum reported remains of at least 324 Native Americans with no location information. 0% of these remains were made available for return to tribes.
Under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, when an institution establishes a connection between tribes and remains, it must publish a list of the tribes eligible to make a repatriation claim. The remains are then made available for return to the tribe(s). Once a tribal claim is made, physical transfer may occur. Many remains have been physically returned to tribes, but data on this is spotty because the law does not require institutions to report when these transfers occur.

Timeline of Native American remains made available for return to tribes by the Illinois State Museum

Tribal and institutional capacity, funding, staffing, regulatory changes, audits, Review Committee decisions and litigation may influence timelines. Under NAGPRA, institutions determine whether Native American remains may be returned through cultural affiliation using evidence such as tribal traditional knowledge and biological and archaeological links, or through disposition based on geographic affiliation.

How the Illinois State Museum compares to other institutions

The amount of Native American remains still held by institutions ranges widely.

The Illinois State Museum made Native American remains available for return to 61 tribes.

Institutions often make remains available for return to multiple tribes, so the amount of remains listed below may be counted for more than one tribe.
TribeRemains Made Available for Return To
Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma132
Osage Nation21
Quapaw Nation19
Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Oklahoma13
Forest County Potawatomi Community, Wisconsin13
Hannahville Indian Community, Michigan13
Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan13
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Michigan (formerly the Huron Potawatomi, Inc.)13
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan and Indiana13
Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation13
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin3
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska3
Barrow Inupiat Traditional Government, Native Village of2
Cherokee Nation2
Chickasaw Nation2
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians2
Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope2
Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska2
Sac and Fox Nation, Oklahoma2
Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa2
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation, California2
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma2
Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana1
Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians of the Bad River Reservation, Wisconsin1
Bay Mills Indian Community, Michigan1
Bois Forte Band (Nett Lake) of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota1
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota1
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Oklahoma1
Chippewa Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, Montana1
Fond du Lac Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota1
Grand Portage Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota1
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Michigan1
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska1
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma1
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan1
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas1
Kickapoo Tribe of Indians of the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas1
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma1
Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin1
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Michigan1
Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation of Wisconsin1
Leech Lake Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota1
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Michigan1
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan1
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of the Lower Brule Reservation, South Dakota1
Mille Lacs Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota1
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota1
Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Montana1
Oglala Sioux Tribe1
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma1
Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma1
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin1
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota1
Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota1
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan1
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Michigan1
Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Wisconsin1
St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin1
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota1
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota1
White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota1

The Illinois State Museum reported making 48% of more than 69,600 associated funerary objects available for return to tribes.

The funerary objects were taken along with Native American remains reported by the institution.
33,205 associated funerary objects made available for return to tribes
at least 36,418 associated funerary objects not made available for return

The Illinois State Museum’s response:

The Illinois State Museum said that current data kept by the National Park Service is outdated and that it is working with NPS to revise the numbers. The museum estimates it has the remains of approximately 7,000 Native Americans that are subject to the law.

“Archaeological and historical lines of evidence were privileged in determining cultural affiliation during early consultations and the creation of the Illinois State Museum’s NAGPRA inventories,” said Brooke M. Morgan, the museum's curator of anthropology. “A theoretical line was drawn in 1673, but this was based on the perceived inability to project contemporary Tribal identity to the ‘pre-contact’ period based on archaeological knowledge. At the time, culturally affiliating Native American human remains with more than one Tribe was unprecedented. The updated NAGPRA regulations of 2010 (43 CFR 10.11) created a path for the repatriation of ‘Culturally Unidentifiable’ individuals, but the Illinois State Museum did not take a proactive approach to repatriation. In the past thirty years, archaeological practice and NAGPRA implementation have changed significantly: scientific and historical lines of evidence are not necessarily privileged, and cultural affiliation to multiple Tribes is routine.”

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About the Data

This tool presents a dataset maintained by the National Park Service containing all the Native American human remains and associated funerary objects that institutions have reported to the federal government under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The dataset includes information about the state and county where remains and objects were taken from, which institutions hold them and whether they have been made available for return to tribes.

The data is self-reported by institutions. The amount of unrepatriated Native American remains reported by institutions is a minimum estimate of individuals and institutions frequently adjust these numbers when they reinventory groups of remains. Some institutions that are subject to NAGPRA have also entirely failed to report the remains in their possession. As a result, the numbers provided are best taken as estimates. The actual number and geographic scope of what’s held by publicly funded institutions is larger than what is presently documented.

ProPublica supplemented this dataset with information about cultural affiliation and disposition to specific tribes by systematically parsing the text of Notices of Inventory Completion published in the Federal Register. An additional dataset from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Tribal Directory Assessment Tool, was used for the section on remains not made available for return from counties that each tribe has indicated interest in to the federal government.

Institution location and tribal headquarters location information was provided by National NAGPRA. The location of some groups that are not federally recognized was provided through research by ProPublica.

Institutions that are part of a larger entity are grouped. (For example, the Mesa Verde National Park is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.)

Institutions that have not submitted information to the federal government are not listed. The Smithsonian Institution is not listed because its repatriation process falls under the National Museum of the American Indian Act and it is not required to publicly report its holdings with the same detail as institutions subject to NAGPRA.

If you work for an institution and would like to provide comment on your institution’s repatriation efforts, please email [email protected]. If you think the data is incorrect or have a data request, please get in touch. We are aware of some issues with the accuracy of location information and tribes mistakenly being identified for disposition of Native American remains in published notices.

If you want to share something else with ProPublica, we’d like to hear from you.

If you have questions about implementing or complying with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, get in touch with National NAGPRA or the NAGPRA Community of Practice.

We use the word “tribes” to refer to all groups that institutions made Native American remains available to under NAGPRA. This includes tribes, nations, bands, pueblos, communities, Native Alaskan villages, Native Hawaiian organizations and non-federally recognized groups.

Data sources from Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National NAGPRA Program, the Federal Register, Department of Housing and Development, Tribal Directory Assessment Tool