The Burke Museum is committed to both the legal and ethical principles of NAGPRA—federal law that allows tribes to reclaim human remains and cultural items from museums and other institutions.
The Burke Museum actively works with Native American tribes to identify and repatriate the cultural items covered by the Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). These include human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.
NAGPRA combines administrative law, property law, and criminal law to protect the civil rights and religious freedoms of Native American tribes. In the past, many Native American human remains were brought to museums with little or no regard to the concerns of the affiliated communities. NAGPRA allows affiliated tribes to reclaim these human remains and certain cultural items subject to the legislation.
The Burke values open communication and respectful relationships during this process, and also works with tribes throughout the US and Canada to respectfully and appropriately preserve Native American cultural items, assist tribes in their cultural heritage efforts, and promote collaborative research and public education.
As required by law, the Burke Museum provided NAGPRA Summaries to the National Park Service and relevant tribal communities in 1993, and NAGPRA Inventories of human remains and funerary objects in 1995. The museum has updated NAGPRA Summaries, Inventories and Notices since the passage of the law, in compliance with the Future Applicability final rule.
The Burke Museum stands on the lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial. Many Indigenous peoples thrive in this place—alive and strong.