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The Repatriation Database Data from Nov. 29, 2023

University of Arizona, Arizona State Museum

Located in Arizona · Read the institution’s response

The Univ. of Arizona has the 10th largest collection of unrepatriated Native American remains in the U.S. The institution reported still having the remains of at least 2,600 Native Americans that it has not made available for return to tribes.

The institution has made available for return 43% of the 4,600 Native American remains that it reported to the federal government.

remains of 1,976 Native Americans made available for return to tribes
remains of at least 2,624 Native Americans not made available for return

Where Native American remains reported by the Univ. of Arizona 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 Univ. of Arizona reported remains of at least 524 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 Univ. of Arizona

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 Univ. of Arizona compares to other institutions

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

The Univ. of Arizona made Native American remains available for return to 38 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
Gila River Indian Community of the Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona1,900
Tohono O'odham Nation of Arizona1,897
Ak-Chin Indian Community1,896
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of the Salt River Reservation, Arizona1,896
Hopi Tribe of Arizona1,789
Zuni Tribe of the Zuni Reservation, New Mexico1,709
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Arizona193
Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe193
San Carlos Apache Tribe of the San Carlos Reservation, Arizona68
Tonto Apache Tribe of Arizona68
White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona68
Yavapai-Apache Nation of the Camp Verde Indian Reservation, Arizona68
Hualapai Indian Tribe of the Hualapai Indian Reservation, Arizona61
Cocopah Tribe of Arizona4
Colorado River Indian Tribes of the Colorado River Indian Reservation, Arizona and California4
Fort Mojave Indian Tribe of Arizona, California and Nevada4
Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, California and Arizona4
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation2
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation2
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation2
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon2
Nez Perce Tribe2
Campo Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Campo Indian Reservation, California1
Capitan Grande Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of California1
Cherokee Nation1
Chickasaw Nation1
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians1
Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians, California1
Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, California1
Inaja Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Inaja and Cosmit Reservation, California1
Jamul Indian Village of California1
La Posta Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the La Posta Indian Reservation, California1
Manzanita Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Manzanita Reservation, California1
Mesa Grande Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of the Mesa Grande Reservation, California1
San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of California1
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation, California1
Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation1
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma1

The Univ. of Arizona reported making 89% of 25,400 associated funerary objects available for return to tribes.

The funerary objects were taken along with Native American remains reported by the institution.
22,535 associated funerary objects made available for return to tribes
at least 2,865 associated funerary objects not made available for return

The Univ. of Arizona’s response:

All individuals and belongings remaining in the care of the Arizona State Museum (ASM) have been reported to National NAGPRA and to potentially culturally or geographically affiliated tribes. ASM, in consultation with tribal communities, is actively working to prepare these remaining individuals and cultural items for transfer at a pace and through a process that is manageable and agreeable to the receiving tribe(s).

Each year, ASM openly discusses its repatriation plan and timeline with Arizona’s Native Nations to ensure that we hear the needs of the communities receiving collections under NAGPRA and to shift the course of our work if requested. The legal transfer of remains, which is the outcome NAGPRA is concerned with, will be completed upon the availability of tribal communities to address the process. The physical transfer of all NAGPRA-eligible collections is anticipated to continue until 2030, as decided in consultation with tribes, to allow communities time to receive their ancestors in a respectful way.

When ASM has physically returned all individuals and belongings to their claimant communities, on a timeline that works for those communities, is when we perceive we will have attained 100% completion. ASM approaches its repatriation work with the utmost respect and commitment to the tribal communities we serve during the NAGPRA process, and our priority is to meet their needs whenever possible.

— Cristin A. Lucas, Repatriation Coordinator
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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