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The Repatriation Database Data from Nov. 29, 2023

New York University, College of Dentistry

Located in New York · Read the institution’s response

New York Univ. has the 94th largest collection of unrepatriated Native American remains in the U.S. The institution reported still having the remains of at least 100 Native Americans that it has not made available for return to tribes.

The institution has made available for return 57% of the more than 200 Native American remains that it reported to the federal government.

remains of 151 Native Americans made available for return to tribes
remains of at least 113 Native Americans not made available for return

Where Native American remains reported by New York Univ. 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: New York Univ. reported remains of at least five Native Americans with no location information. 100% 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 New York Univ.

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 New York Univ. compares to other institutions

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

New York Univ. made Native American remains available for return to 60 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
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation, California90
Cherokee Nation18
Chickasaw Nation18
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians18
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma18
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians10
La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians, California8
Pala Band of Mission Indians8
Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pauma and Yuima Reservation, California8
Pechanga Band of Indians8
Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians8
Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, California8
Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California6
Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Santa Rosa Rancheria, California6
Table Mountain Rancheria6
Tule River Indian Tribe of the Tule River Reservation, California6
Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians of the Tuolumne Rancheria of California6
Caddo Nation of Oklahoma5
Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California4
California Valley Miwok Tribe, California4
Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California4
Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, California4
Ione Band of Miwok Indians of California4
Jackson Band of Miwuk Indians4
Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, Shingle Springs Rancheria (Verona Tract), California4
United Auburn Indian Community of the Auburn Rancheria of California4
Osage Nation3
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas2
Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Oklahoma2
Comanche Nation, Oklahoma2
Kialegee Tribal Town2
Muscogee (Creek) Nation2
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma2
Poarch Band of Creek Indians2
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town2
Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota2
Tuscarora Nation2
Big Sandy Rancheria of Western Mono Indians of California1
Brevig Mission, Native Village of1
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma1
Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians of California1
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation1
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation1
Delaware Nation, Oklahoma1
Delaware Tribe of Indians1
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians1
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan1
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians1
Nome Eskimo Community1
Northfork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California1
Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of the Fallon Reservation and Colony, Nevada1
Seminole Tribe of Florida1
Seneca Nation of Indians1
Seneca-Cayuga Nation1
Shinnecock Indian Nation1
Stockbridge Munsee Community, Wisconsin1
Teller, Native Village of1
The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma1
Tonawanda Band of Seneca1
Wanapum Band1

New York Univ. reported no funerary objects associated with the Native American remains.

New York Univ.’s response:

“NYU's sole objective with respect to the Native American remains housed at the NYU College of Dentistry is to repatriate them all in a manner that is dignified, respectful, and in compliance with law. NYU came into possession of these remains in 1956, when the Museum of the American Indian closed its Department of Physical Anthropology and transferred its collection to other institutions, one of which was NYU College of Dentistry.

Since the mid-2000s, the College of Dentistry has been actively engaged with Native American communities, including proactively informing them of the collection and repatriating approximately half of the remains. Tribal leaders from California came to NYU as recently as December 2022 in what was our largest repatriation and transfer of ancestral remains to date, and we are currently in conversation with tribal leaders on Long Island to discuss the repatriation of ancestral remains from that area. Like other universities and museums across the country working toward repatriation, we have had to confront a process that is complex and drawn-out: some remains lack records connecting them to a specific tribe, or are connected to a tribe not recognized by the federal government, which hinders their being designated as available for return until tribal affiliation is established. But NYU has been and continues to be fully committed to repatriating all the remains in its possession in accordance with NAGPRA."

— NYU College of Dentistry spokesperson
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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