In 1990, the US Congress enacted the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA, since amended). The primary purpose—and effect—of this law was to guarantee contemporary Native American groups (including federally-recognized Indian tribes) in the decision-making process regarding the treatment of human remains of Native American ancestors. One of the most complicated aspects of this law is determining which, if any, contemporary Native American groups can claim the most direct connection to the physical remains of humans uncovered during archaeological excavations and construction activities that require some aspect of federal permitting, funding, or licensing.
The Ethical Battle over Ancient DNA
By Michael Balter
March 30, 2017