History: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

On Nov. 16, 1990, Congress enacted the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA; PL 101-601; 25 USC 3001-30013) for the purpose of protecting Native American burial sites and to regulate the removal of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony located on federal, Indian, and native Hawaiian lands. NAGPRA provides a process for the return, upon request, of certain cultural objects to Native Americans, makes illegal the trafficking of those objects, and sets forth procedures for the control of their excavation. Museums receiving federal funds are required to comply with NAGPRA. The UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art receives federal funds; therefore, museum collections are subject to NAGPRA. The museum complies with the federal law to meet legal requirements.


The program director approves the deaccession of all objects from the permanent collection when the deaccession results in the removal of objects from the control of the museum qualifying under NAGPRA.

The program director delegates responsibility for managing the museum’s compliance with NAGPRA to the collection manager.

Responsibilities of Types of Collections

The museum holds responsibility for NAGPRA compliance for objects controlled by the museum.


  • The museum will not acquire or access objects qualifying under NAGPRA for any of its collections.
  • The museum may serve as a temporary repository for NAGPRA objects on loan from an outside entity. These objects may qualify as culturally affiliated or unaffiliated.
  • The museum maintains possession of culturally unaffiliated NAGPRA objects under the museum’s control until NAGPRA guidelines are establishes by the Secretary of the Interior.
  • NAGPRA objects receive a level of care and security consistent with the standards defined in the Secretary of the Interior’s curation guidelines.
  • The museum does not use NAGPRA objects in museum exhibits and educational programs.
  • The museum does not conduct research and documentation on NAGPRA objects. The museum does not subject NAGPRA objects to research techniques requiring the destruction of original material unless approved by the affiliated tribe. The museum may conduct such research on unaffiliated objects if warranted for NAGPRA compliance.
  • The museum may discover objects meeting NAGPRA qualifications in existing collections not found during previous inventories. The museum will proceed with NAGPRA compliance for these objects.
  • Transfer of NAGPRA objects to tribes conforms to NAGPRA guidelines. The museum may provide standard museum containers for objects. Costs for transporting objects or other costs associated with repatriation are the responsibility of the tribe. The museum supports ceremonial and special arrangements, within limits of museum resources, health, and safety. The museum does not receive information on the disposition of repatriated objects.