Skip to content
The Repatriation Database Data from Nov. 29, 2023

Chickasaw Nation

A federally recognized Indian tribe with headquarters in Oklahoma

Institutions reported making the remains of more than 25,200 Native Americans available for return to the Chickasaw Nation.

The tribe was also eligible to claim more than 83,700 associated funerary objects.

Institutions continue to hold the remains of at least 6,200 Native Americans taken from counties known to be of interest to the tribe.*

Where Native American remains made available for return to the Chickasaw Nation were taken from

Each county is a peak
Height is amount of remains taken from county and made available by institutions for return to tribe
No remains taken from these counties made available for return to tribe
Institution that made remains available for return
Swipe interaction icon
Note: Remains of six Native Americans with no location information were made available for return to the Chickasaw Nation.
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.

These 51 institutions made Native American remains available for return to the Chickasaw Nation.

InstitutionRemains Made Available for Return To Tribe
Tennessee Valley Authority11,837
University of Alabama Museums10,651
Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History495
University of California, San Diego478
U.S. Department of the Interior384
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Archaeology259
U.S. Department of Defense231
Vanderbilt University208
University of Memphis178
University of Tennessee, Knoxville171
National Guard Bureau, Air National Guard96
Murray State University, Archaeology Laboratory47
Gilcrease Museum38
Columbus State University28
Mississippi State University, Cobb Institute of Archaeology22
New York University, College of Dentistry18
Harvard University16
University of Louisville16
University of Oklahoma16
University of Iowa, Office of the State Archaeologist5
University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology5
Indiana University4
Milwaukee Public Museum4
University of Denver, Museum of Anthropology4
Bryn Mawr College3
Mercyhurst Univ.3
Alabama Department of Transportation2
Anniston Museum of Natural History2
Denver Museum of Nature and Science2
Illinois State Museum2
Kentucky Historical Society2
Louisiana State University2
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology2
University of South Alabama, Center for Archaeological Studies2
Western Kentucky University2
American Museum of Natural History1
Amherst College, Beneski Museum of Natural History1
Appalachian State University, Department of Anthropology1
Auburn University1
Baylor University, Mayborn Museum Complex1
Charleston Museum1
Dartmouth College, Hood Museum of Art1
Grand Rapids Public Museum1
Memphis Pink Palace Museum1
Museum of Us1
Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology, Phillips Academy1
University of Arizona, Arizona State Museum1
University of Missouri, Columbia, Museum of Anthropology1
University of Southern Mississippi, Department of Anthropology and Sociology1
Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site1
Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History1

Timeline of Native American remains made available for return to the Chickasaw Nation

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.

These institutions have not made available for return the remains of at least 6,200 Native Americans that were taken from counties known to be of interest to the Chickasaw Nation.

These are estimates calculated using remains not made available for return from counties that the tribe has previously been eligible to claim remains from, as well as counties that the tribe has indicated interest in to the federal government. They are not comprehensive figures. The tribe may not wish to claim the remains, and other tribes may also seek to claim them.
InstitutionRemains Not Made Available for Return That Were Taken From Counties of Interest to the Tribe
Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville3,128
Frank H. McClung Museum (2,277)
Dept. of Anthropology (851)
Univ. of Alabama1,744
Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site383
Univ. of Louisville200
Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation181
Dept. of Defense122
Tulsa District (109)
National Museum of Health and Medicine (7)
Nashville District (6)
Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History103
Vanderbilt Univ.86
Univ. of Kentucky66
Harvard Univ.33
Ohio History Connection28
Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology20
Dept. of the Interior18
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge (13)
Southeast Archeological Center (5)
Univ. of Pennsylvania18
Univ. of Oklahoma16
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (15)
Oklahoma Archeological Survey (1)
Northern Kentucky Univ.8
Alabama Dept. of Archives & History6
Univ. of Memphis6
Univ. of North Texas6
Western Kentucky Univ.6
Mississippi State Univ.5
Columbus Museum4
State Museum of Pennsylvania4
Beloit College3
American Museum of Natural History2
Bridgewater College2
Univ. of Florida2
Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign2
Univ. of Tennessee at Chattanooga2
Indiana Univ.1
Murray State Univ.1
No Man's Land Historical Society1
Wisconsin Historical Society1
Counties of interest used in estimate include: Colbert, Cullman, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Russell, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston in Alabama. Camden in Georgia. Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Jefferson, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, Mason, Mccracken and Trigg in Kentucky. Adams, Alcorn, Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Clay, De Soto, Desoto, Hancock, Itawamba, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lee, Lowndes, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, Panola, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Tunica, Union, Warren, Washington, Webster and Yalobusha in Mississippi. Jefferson in Ohio. Bryan, Caddo, Carter, Coal, Comanche, Garvin, Grady, Jefferson, Johnston, Love, Marshall, Mcclain, Murray, Pontotoc and Stephens in Oklahoma. Anderson, Bedford, Benton, Bradley, Campbell, Carroll, Chester, Claiborne, Coffee, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Franklin, Gibson, Giles, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jefferson, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Loudon, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Maury, Mcminn, Mcnairy, Meigs, Monroe, Moore, Obion, Perry, Polk, Rhea, Roane, Rutherford, Shelby, Stewart, Tipton, Trousdale, Wayne, Weakley and Williamson in Tennessee.
Get in touch

Know how an institution is handling repatriation? Have a personal story to share? We'd like to hear from you.

Learn how to report on repatriation

Watch an informational webinar with our reporters.

Sign up for the newsletter
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