NAGPRA Changes Effective May 14, 2011

DATES: This rule is effective May 14, 2010.      Federal rulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Mail or hand delivery: Sherry Hutt, Manager, National NAGPRA Program, National Park Service, 1201 Eye Street, NW., 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20005. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherry Hutt, Manager, National NAGPRA Program, National Park Service, 1201 Eye Street, NW., 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20005, Telephone: (202) 354-1479, Fax: (202) 371-5197. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (the Act) addresses the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to certain Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony. Among other things, the Act: --Established the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee, composed of representatives from museum and scientific organizations and from Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations (the Review Committee) to monitor and review inventory, identification, and repatriation activities. --Required the Review Committee to consult with the Secretary of the Interior in developing regulations to implement the Act. --Charged the Review Committee with compiling an inventory of culturally unidentifiable human remains in museums or Federal agencies and recommending actions for disposition of these remains.    
     
In brief, this rule pertains to those human remains, in collections, determined by museums and Federal agencies to be Native American, but for whom no relationship of shared group identity can be reasonably traced, historically or prehistorically, between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group. These individuals are listed on inventories as culturally unidentifiable Native American human remains. The rule requires consultation on the culturally unidentifiable human remains by the museum or Federal agency with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations whose tribal lands or aboriginal occupancy areas are in the area where the remains were removed. If cultural affiliation still cannot be determined and repatriation achieved, then the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization may request disposition of the remains. The museum or Federal agency would then publish a notice and transfer control to the tribe, without first being required to appear before the Review Committee to seek a recommendation for disposition approval from the Secretary of the Interior. Disposition requests, which do not meet the parameters of the rule, would still require approval from the Secretary, who may request a recommendation from the Review Committee. Therefore, the Department is issuing this final rule to be effective May 14, 2010. Summary of Comments The proposed rule to specify procedures for the disposition of culturally unidentifiable human remains in the possession or control of museums or Federal agencies was published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2007 (72 FR 58582). Public comment was invited for a 90-day period, ending on January 14, 2008. The proposed rule was also posted on the National NAGPRA Program Web site. The Review Committee commented on the proposed rule at its January 8, 2008 public teleconference. In addition, 138 written comments were received during the comment period, representing 51 Indian tribes, 19 Indian organizations, 30 museums, 12 museum or scientific organizations, 3 Federal entities, 15 members of the public, and the Review Committee. Comments addressed all sections of the proposed rule. All comments were fully considered when revising the proposed rule as a final rulemaking.