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The Repatriation Database Data from Nov. 29, 2023


Institutions reported making 86% of the more than 1,400 Native American remains taken from Iowa available for return to tribes under NAGPRA.

remains of 1,280 Native Americans made available for return to tribes
remains of at least 202 Native Americans not made available for return

There are 10 institutions located in Iowa 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 Iowa, Office of the State Archaeologist1111,09591%
Putnam Museum10638%
University of Northern Iowa700%
Grout Museum of History and Science600%
Palmer Foundation for Chiropractic History6440%
Salisbury House300%
Coe College07100%
Sioux City Public Museum01100%
State Historical Society of Iowa0221100%
U.S. Department of the Interior070100%

There are 20 institutions that reported Native American remains taken from Iowa.

InstitutionRemains Not Made Available for ReturnRemains Made Available for Return% of Remains Made Available for Return
U.S. Department of Defense8100%
University of Iowa, Office of the State Archaeologist6194794%
Harvard University16211%
University of Nebraska State Museum1100%
Wisconsin Historical Society800%
Milwaukee Public Museum500%
University of Tennessee, Knoxville54490%
Putnam Museum4120%
Field Museum300%
Grout Museum of History and Science200%
University of Missouri, Columbia, Museum of Anthropology200%
Cleveland Museum of Natural History100%
Hastings Museum100%
Illinois State Museum100%
University of Arizona, Arizona State Museum100%
Bess Bower Dunn Museum01100%
South Dakota State Historical Society, State Archaeological Research Center01100%
Springfield Science Museum01100%
State Historical Society of Iowa0213100%
U.S. Department of the Interior070100%
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 Iowa available for return to 33 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
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma638
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska637
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma637
Omaha Tribe of Nebraska478
Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma478
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska478
Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota469
Institution could not determine a culturally affiliated tribe and remains were transferred or reinterred according to state or other law462
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin403
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska402
Lower Sioux Indian Community in the State of Minnesota394
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota383
Santee Sioux Nation, Nebraska383
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, South Dakota383
Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota383
Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska356
Sac and Fox Nation, Oklahoma356
Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa356
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma329
Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Oklahoma328
Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma328
Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation328
Upper Sioux Community, Minnesota66
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota65
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Crow Creek Reservation, South Dakota55
Prairie Island Indian Community in the State of Minnesota53
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota43
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota13
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of the Lower Brule Reservation, South Dakota13
Oglala Sioux Tribe13
Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota13
Spirit Lake Tribe, North Dakota13
Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana1

Institutions reported Native American remains taken from 60 counties in Iowa.

CountyRemains Taken From County Not Made Available for ReturnRemains Made Available for Return% of Remains Made Available for Return
Polk County473543%
Dubuque County28720%
Marion County1716%
Boone County111354%
Pottawattamie County111761%
Clinton County71467%
Floyd County61368%
Johnson County5444%
Louisa County56393%
Mills County44291%
Warren County400%
Cherokee County33392%
Clayton County37496%
Jackson County34193%
Wapello County300%
Allamakee County225099%
Monona County2250%
Cass County1150%
Chickasaw County1375%
Dickinson County12997%
Hamilton County14698%
Lyon County14198%
Marshall County100%
Muscatine County12897%
Page County1375%
Plymouth County116699%
Sac County100%
Story County1480%
Washington County100%
Woodbury County110099%
Black Hawk County01100%
Buchanan County01100%
Buena Vista County08100%
Calhoun County01100%
Cedar County01100%
Cerro Gordo County01100%
Clay County07100%
Crawford County01100%
Dallas County05100%
Des Moines County015100%
Fayette County09100%
Fremont County05100%
Hardin County01100%
Harrison County04100%
Humboldt County07100%
Ida County02100%
Jasper County04100%
Jefferson County012100%
Jones County030100%
Lee County02100%
O'Brien County02100%
Palo Alto County01100%
Scott County033100%
Shelby County02100%
Sioux County02100%
Union County03100%
Webster County010100%
Winnebago County08100%
Winneshiek County010100%
Worth County02100%
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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