Skip to main content

Museums and Native American Tribes in Dialogue: Changing Repatriation Policies Since 1989

Monday, March 20, 2023, 5:40 pm – 7:00 pm

In 1989 and 1990, the United States enacted two federal laws requiring over 1000 American museums and federal agencies to return Native American cultural items upon the request of Indian tribes. This presentation will focus on the effects of the these laws over the past 33 years on burial site protection; repatriation from the Smithsonian, other federal agencies, and private museums; and prosecutions for illegal trafficking, and concludes with a discussion of how repatriation has changed since 1989 and how it will it continue to change.

C. Timothy McKeown is a legal anthropologist whose career has focused on the development of ethnographic methodologies to document the cultural knowledge of communities and involved in the application of indigenous knowledge to the development of U.S. repatriation policy since 1991. He served as a Federal official responsible for drafting regulations implementing Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and providing training and technical assistance to nearly 1000 museums and Federal agencies and 700 indigenous communities across the U.S. He served as part of U.S. delegations negotiating repatriation provisions before the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), Organization of American States, and United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The University of Arizona Press published his comprehensive review of the legislative history of U.S. Federal repatriation mandates. He is co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation.