Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

pp 6306-6312

Repatriation Acts: The Politics of Repatriation in North America

  • Joe WatkinsAffiliated withNative American Studies Program, University of Oklahoma Email author 

Introduction

In North America, the National Museum of the American Indian Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act are the two laws that regulate the repatriation of materials to American Indian tribes. Since much has been written about these laws, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (see the entry on NAGPRA in this encyclopedia) will not be discussed in detail here; the reader is referred to numerous websites devoted to discussing these laws and their histories. Since the National Museum of the American Indian Act was the first of the repatriation acts, it will be discussed first, but since the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act has had perhaps the most widespread impact on museums and anthropologists, it will be discussed in more detail.

Definition

Repatriation, in its very basic sense, is the process of returning something to its home country. More often than not, the items returned are soldiers or t ...

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