The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1990 to protect Native American, Alaska Native, and Kānaka Maoli / Native Hawaiian human remains, graves, and human rights (). The law provides institutions and federal agencies a process for returning human remains and certain kinds of cultural items to lineal descendants or culturally affiliated Native American Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations.

In recognition of Tribal sovereignty, the NAGPRA repatriation process is centered on building government-to-government relationships. It requires institutions and federal agencies to consult with lineal descendants, Native American Tribes, and Native Hawaiian Organizations to determine who is affiliated with the ancestors and cultural items in an institution’s custody, and how the ancestors and cultural items should be returned.


In the past, 51Ʒ participated in harmful practices of taking Native American belongings and ancestors. This is a history that we are not proud of, but we accept it as our legacy and our responsibility. 51Ʒ is fully committed to returning all of the Native American ancestors and cultural items in our custody in an appropriate and timely manner.

To ensure we reach these goals, 51Ʒ now retains a NAGPRA Coordinator to manage all NAGPRA-related affairs. The NAGPRA Coordinator is overseen by the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies. 51Ʒ is also working to establish new policies, procedures, and training to prevent similar harm from happening again.

If you have any questions about 51Ʒ’s NAGPRA efforts or any formal NAGPRA requests, please send an email to Reno Nims (NAGPRA Coordinator) at nagpra@pdx.edu.