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The Repatriation Database Data from Nov. 29, 2023


Institutions reported making 70% of the more than 100 Native American remains taken from Montana available for return to tribes under NAGPRA.

remains of 135 Native Americans made available for return to tribes
remains of at least 57 Native Americans not made available for return

There are seven institutions located in Montana 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 Montana254665%
Montana Historical Society1600%
Montana State University, Bozeman, Department of Sociology1100%
Montana State University, Museum of the Rockies11739%
U.S. Department of Agriculture1375%
U.S. Department of the Interior1686%
Carter County Museum015100%

There are 30 institutions that reported Native American remains taken from Montana.

InstitutionRemains Not Made Available for ReturnRemains Made Available for Return% of Remains Made Available for Return
American Museum of Natural History11321%
Montana State University, Museum of the Rockies9744%
Montana Historical Society800%
Montana State University, Bozeman, Department of Sociology600%
University of Montana64288%
University of Wyoming6333%
University of Tennessee, Knoxville300%
Field Museum2880%
Carnegie Museum of Natural History1583%
Kalamazoo Valley Museum100%
New York State Museum100%
U.S. Department of Defense1375%
U.S. Department of the Interior11995%
University of Kansas100%
Buffalo Bill Center of the West01100%
Carter County Museum014100%
Denver Museum of Nature and Science01100%
Illinois State Museum01100%
Madison County Historical Society01100%
Minnesota Indian Affairs Council02100%
Missouri Historical Society01100%
Mutter Museum, College of Physicians of Philadelphia01100%
Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society)01100%
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History01100%
South Dakota State Historical Society, State Archaeological Research Center02100%
U.S. Department of Agriculture03100%
University of Colorado Museum07100%
University of Idaho, Alfred W. Bowers Laboratory of Anthropology06100%
Utah Department of Natural Resources01100%
Wistar Institute02100%
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 Montana available for return to 36 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
Crow Tribe of Montana59
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation34
Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana27
Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana25
Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana23
Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota22
Oglala Sioux Tribe18
Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota18
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota17
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Crow Creek Reservation, South Dakota17
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota17
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of the Lower Brule Reservation, South Dakota17
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota17
Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota17
Lower Sioux Indian Community in the State of Minnesota16
Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming16
Prairie Island Indian Community in the State of Minnesota16
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, South Dakota16
Spirit Lake Tribe, North Dakota16
Upper Sioux Community, Minnesota16
Santee Sioux Nation, Nebraska15
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota15
Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Montana6
Nez Perce Tribe3
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Oklahoma2
Chippewa Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, Montana2
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation2
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation2
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation1
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma1
Lineal Descendant1
Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana1
Omaha Tribe of Nebraska1
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma1
Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa1
Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation1

Institutions reported Native American remains taken from 27 counties in Montana.

CountyRemains Taken From County Not Made Available for ReturnRemains Made Available for Return% of Remains Made Available for Return
Carbon County6225%
Yellowstone County62782%
Big Horn County31583%
Hill County300%
Park County3770%
Teton County300%
Chouteau County2133%
Custer County2133%
Madison County200%
Gallatin County1150%
Granite County100%
Jefferson County100%
Petroleum County100%
Richland County100%
Sheridan County100%
Wibaux County100%
Beaverhead County02100%
Carter County013100%
Fallon County01100%
Glacier County06100%
Lake County05100%
Lincoln County03100%
Meagher County07100%
Missoula County05100%
Powell County02100%
Roosevelt County010100%
Sanders 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