Introducing Respect in NAGPRA Repatriation Efforts

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This thesis addresses the repatriation efforts of the Texas Historical Commission (THC) over the legacy collections subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) housed at THC’s Curatorial Facility for Artifact Research. The passage of NAGPRA provided a formal process for tribes to reclaim their ancestors. This led to the question addressed in this thesis: how is this change in perspective reflected in the best practice methodology developed by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in preparing a collection for repatriation prior to the notice of inventory? The THC is dedicated to following the spirit of NAGPRA as well as the letter of the law to make a new model on records compilation, rehousing efforts and consultation with the tribes during the repatriation process. The methods in the model were compiled while acknowledging that the human remains were once ancestors with living descendants that have burial customs different from Anglo-American burials. Best practices are a process and can be altered with new information. Through these repatriation efforts, the THC has provided a model for best practices and methodology to follow which can be applied throughout the United States.