Repatriation of human remains from University of Massachusetts?

Indian Country Today reports that a complaint filed against the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which alleges violations of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, is under investigation and will be heard at a NAGPRA Review Committee meeting in the fall.

The Tribal Historic Preservation Officers Cheryl Andrews-Maltais of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, Aquinnah; John Brown III of the Narragansett Indian Tribe; and Sherry White of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians filed the complaint in May 2008.

It will be heard by the NAGPRA Review Committee this fall, said White, who has been coordinating documentation from the three tribes.

The complaint alleges that UMass Amherst has violated the federal law by failing to respond to the tribes’ request for repatriation of human remains that are in its possession, and for failing to consult with the tribes.

The complaint also says the university failed to publish a complete inventory of the human remains and other items of cultural patrimony in its possession, and listed the remains as “culturally unaffiliated” even while admitting that the three tribes had a historical presence in and historical ties to the area where the remains were found. In addition, these three tribes are the only federally recognized tribes with standing to claim the remains.

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