A major piece of legislation that became law in the USA on 16 November 1990 and which provides a series of rights by which native groups can influence the deposition and treatment of human remains and associated artefacts.
Specifically, section 3 of the Act relates to any human remains and objects excavated or discovered on federal or tribal lands, giving ownership or control of that material to the lineal descendants of the Native American where that can be determined, or the Indian tribe on whose tribal land the material was discovered, or the tribe with the closest cultural affiliation with such remains or objects and which states a claim for such remains. Section 5 requires each federal agency and museum which has holdings or collections of Native American remains and funerary objects to compile an inventory of the material and identify the geographical and cultural affiliation of it. Section 7 provides for the expeditious repatriation of Native American human remains and objects held by federal agencies and museums at the request of a known lineal descendant or tribe that formerly owned or controlled the material. Section 8 establishes a review committee to monitor the inventory and identification process and to adjudicate in cases of competing claims.
NAGPRA and its operation has been the focus of much debate during the first decade of its implementation, some archaeologists claiming that it overly restricts access to human remains and cultural material for scientific study.
http://www.nps.gov/history/nagpra/ Text of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, passed in 1990, together with news and commentary on its application within the USA.
From: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology »