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What is NAGPRA and when does it apply?

Federal and Tribal Lands

Differences Between NAGPRA (Federal and Tribal Lands) and Chapter 872, F.S.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act is a federal law passed in 1990 that addresses the inventory, identification and treatment of Native American human remains, particularly those in the collections of museums and federal agencies. Its main focus is the identification and potential repatriation of human remains and objects of cultural patrimony - funerary objects and sacred objects - to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. In addition, the law addresses inadvertent discoveries and excavations on federal and tribal lands. Here are some key points about the two major parts of NAGPRA,:

1. Inventory and repatriation of museum collections

  • If you are with a museum or agency that holds Native American human remains and objects of cultural patrimony, go to the NAGPRA web page. This federal law and program are administered by the National Park Service, a federal agency.
  • Neither the Florida State Archaeologist nor the Florida State Historic Preservation Officer, nor the Division of Historical Resources, have any role in the NAGPRA procedures regarding inventory, repatriation or related activities. The only exception is that the Division is required to follow NAGPRA procedures for its own collections, just like all other agencies that receive federal funds.

2. Excavations and inadvertent discoveries on federal property and tribal lands

  • If you are involved in excavations on federal property or on tribal lands, start with the NAGPRA web page for instructions on planning and procedures. This federal process does not normally involve state archaeological or state historic preservation officials.
  • If you are involved in inadvertent discoveries of Native American human remains or objects of cultural patrimony on federal or tribal lands, contact the land manager or the responsible agency official immediately so that the proper NAGPRA procedures can be followed.
  • The provisions of NAGPRA related to inadvertent discoveries and excavations do not apply to state or local government lands or to private lands in Florida. The law governing unmarked human remains in Florida on non-federal lands is Section 872.05, Florida Statutes.