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The Repatriation Database Data from Nov. 29, 2023


Institutions reported making 86% of the more than 23,900 Native American remains taken from Alabama available for return to tribes under NAGPRA.

remains of 20,567 Native Americans made available for return to tribes
remains of at least 3,394 Native Americans not made available for return

There are 11 institutions located in Alabama that reported Native American remains taken from across the country.

InstitutionRemains Not Made Available for ReturnRemains Made Available for Return% of Remains Made Available for Return
University of Alabama Museums2,73210,72380%
Auburn University76720%
U.S. Department of Defense22821549%
Alabama Department of Archives & History783732%
University of South Alabama, Center for Archaeological Studies60913%
Anniston Museum of Natural History3925%
Jacksonville State University1700%
McWane Science Center2133%
Alabama Department of Transportation045100%
Florence Indian Mound Museum01100%
U.S. Department of the Interior025100%

There are 26 institutions that reported Native American remains taken from Alabama.

InstitutionRemains Not Made Available for ReturnRemains Made Available for Return% of Remains Made Available for Return
University of Alabama Museums2,41310,72382%
Auburn University76520%
Alabama Department of Archives & History783732%
University of South Alabama, Center for Archaeological Studies56914%
Anniston Museum of Natural History3825%
Jacksonville State University1700%
U.S. Department of the Interior53688%
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology5229%
Columbus Museum46894%
U.S. Department of Defense45793%
Harvard University3125%
University of Louisiana at Monroe300%
Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology, Phillips Academy2133%
Florida State University, Department of Anthropology100%
Alabama Department of Transportation045100%
Bruce Museum01100%
Columbus State University028100%
Florence Indian Mound Museum01100%
Gilcrease Museum038100%
Tennessee Valley Authority09,028100%
University of California, San Diego0478100%
University of Denver, Museum of Anthropology02100%
University of Memphis05100%
University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology01100%
University of Oklahoma01100%
Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History01100%
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.

Institutions made Native American remains taken from Alabama available for return to 22 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 Tribe
Chickasaw Nation18,151
Muscogee (Creek) Nation13,840
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas13,073
Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana12,980
Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Oklahoma12,348
The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma11,678
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma11,542
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians11,494
Seminole Tribe of Florida10,952
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians2,180
Cherokee Nation2,175
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma2,151
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town1,839
Poarch Band of Creek Indians1,360
Kialegee Tribal Town881
Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma731
Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma731
Shawnee Tribe731
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians198
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians78
Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana7
Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe7

Institutions reported Native American remains taken from 42 counties in Alabama.

CountyRemains Taken From County Not Made Available for ReturnRemains Made Available for Return% of Remains Made Available for Return
Marshall County1,5351,11842%
Elmore County78000%
St. Clair County356185%
Jackson County17568380%
Mobile County7434%
Jefferson County6400%
Calhoun County5400%
Baldwin County451018%
Clarke County45510%
Talladega County401426%
Cherokee County353248%
Washington County2115%
Perry County1700%
Montgomery County162460%
Walker County161853%
Madison County1058298%
Bibb County900%
Russell County911293%
Dallas County800%
Morgan County865499%
Tuscaloosa County510,682100%
Wilcox County5117%
Sumter County300%
Covington County200%
Macon County2133%
Randolph County200%
Barbour County100%
Franklin County11,365100%
Henry County100%
Lamar County100%
Monroe County100%
Winston County100%
Blount County01100%
Colbert County0911100%
Cullman County02100%
Etowah County018100%
Hale County076100%
Lauderdale County03,781100%
Lawrence County0296100%
Lee County01100%
Limestone County0124100%
Lowndes County031100%
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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