Repatriation at the Museum
From the first, the Museum’s approach to NAGPRA has been guided by its Ethics Policy Statement (board adopted in 2008; reaffirmed in 2017), which directs the Museum’s president, staff, and trustees to implement ethical practices. These include:
The Museum shall not knowingly and willfully accept or acquire any object that was illegally imported or illegally collected or that was received under circumstances that would encourage irresponsible damage, destruction, or illegal trade of biota; historic, cultural, and natural sites; or human burial places.
Decisions concerning human remains and sacred and funerary objects are treated with the respect and cultural sensitivity that emerges from the legal and governing practices of the culture of origin. The unique and special nature of human remains and funerary and sacred objects is recognized as the basis of all decisions concerning these collections.
Competing claims of ownership that may arise in connection with objects in the Museum’s custody shall be handled openly, seriously, responsively, and with respect for the dignity of all parties involved.
Additionally, the Museum’s approach to repatriation must be guided by its Manual of Collection Policies (board adopted in 2008; reaffirmed in 2017). Read Section 11 of the Manual of Collection Policies for more information. These principles, practices, and ethical commitments should guide all procedures outlined here. This procedures document particularly reaffirms the Museum’s commitment to the principles of respect, reciprocity, justice, and dialogue to address any and all claims.