University of Michigan sets formal policy for returning remains to Native Americans
The University of Michigan has completed a formal set of regulations for repatriating Native American remains and funerary objects to qualifying tribes.
The formal rules come after a 2010 update of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, first established in 1990, that more clearly stated a museum's responsibility in returning human remains excavated from Native American graves to federally recognized tribes.
Tension had existed between the university and some Native American tribes that felt U-M was not adhering to NAGPRA. After the 2010 update, the university created a task force to formalize its repatriation process.
"This goes beyond the letter of the law," said David Lampe, communications director for the university's research operations.
U-M plans to return the remains of roughly 1,600 people and 16,000 funerary objects to Native American tribes using their new policies. Those remains and objects were excavated and studied by university archeologists and researchers over several decades. Most are stored at the school's Museum of Anthropology but are not displayed.
The policies can be found here.
This story has been updated to reflect new information.