Native American Graves Protection
Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) / Legislative Issues
Legal work continues on a number of NAGPRA implementation issues in several areas. First, NARF offered testimony in 2004 and 2005 before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at an Oversight Hearings regarding NAGPRA issues. NARF supports legislation to amend NAGPRA to correct problems created by the Ninth Circuit decision in the Bonnichsen case, which was introduced in September as S. 2087 and marked-up by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Second, NARF represents the Pawnee Nation in the reburial of about 800 human remains in the State of Nebraska. This reburial entails facilitation of a transfer of private land located within the heart of the Pawnee homeland to the Nation for use as a reburial and cultural site. Meetings were held this Spring concerning these matters. The Nebraska Attorney General issued an opinion in 2006 clarifying that reburials may be done on private land in Nebraska.
In the Spring of 2007, the historic conveyance of 60 acres of land took place with the formal transfer of the deed by landowners Roger and Linda Welsch during a tribal ceremony held in their honor. The reburial on that land is slated for the Fall of 2007.
Third, NARF continues to monitor and participate in litigation affecting the implementation of NAGPRA. In 2005 it filed an amicus brief in the Spirit Cave litigation supporting a tribal repatriation claim against the BLM in Fallon-Piaute Shoshone Indian Tribe v. United States. The district court upheld the Tribe's contentions and remanded the matter back to BLM. However, BLM appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit.
Finally, NARF continues to monitor and submit comments on rule-making by the Department of the Interior concerning the implementation of this important statute.