Supported by a federal NAGPRA grant, tribal nations, History Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs participated in a reburial ceremony in Colorado in June 2016. Photo courtesy History Colorado
Finally, the GAO said the sale of tribal items in overseas markets remains an ongoing challenge. Implementing outstanding recommendations from prior NAGPRA reports in 2010, 2018, 2019 and 2021 could help address the issue, according to the report. “Implementing the remaining eight could help Interior target efforts to analyze and address risks to Native American cultural resources and improve how federal agencies communicate with tribes that request assistance with repatriating cultural items from overseas auctions,” the GAO said, noting that 47 other NAGPRA recommendations have been “fully implemented” as of September 2023. “This could also improve agencies’ efforts to consult with tribes on certain federal efforts that could affect cultural resources,” the report continued. The 2010, 2018, 2019 and 2021 NAGPRA reports were followed by Congressional testimony in February 2022, when the GAO discussed the challenges facing federal agency compliance with the law.
According to the data, Illinois, Ohio and California are home to museums and agencies with the largest numbers of Native ancestors. A table in the report further shows that the University of California at Berkeley, the Illinois State Museum and the Ohio History Connection are holding onto the three largest collections of Native ancestors. Harvard University in Massachusetts closely follows.