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In the United States the legislation known as NAGPRA has changed the way archaeology is conducted throughout the country. Though in some ways controversial, this legislation has allowed greater dialogue between archaeologists and Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians.

As you learned in this chapter, based on their belief systems different Native American groups react to archaeological excavations in different ways. Thanks to NAGPRA, these belief systems must be respected by archaeologists and museums. This means it is more important than ever that archaeologists working in the United States learn to communicate with Native American groups and respect their cultures.

For this activity you are asked to select a Native American group, preferably from your own area of the country, and answer some questions about their views on archaeology and the repatriation of artifacts. A library may help, but much of this information will be available online. (Most tribes and groups have up to date websites, such as that of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma website at To answer some of these questions you may need to contact the appropriate party within the tribe for more information. Look online for contact details for the appropriate Cultural Preservation Office or equivalent.


What are the traditional burial practices of the group you are studying? Within the religious and cultural views of the group you are studying, what role do ancestors play?


Has the group you are studying ever collaborated with archaeologists? If so, how?


What does the group you are studying believe about the archaeological excavation of human remains? When excavations must take place, does the group you are studying ask that archaeologists follow any guidelines?


Has the group you are studying requested the return of any objects from collecting institutions through NAGPRA? If so, what has been done with the returned artifacts and/or the returned human remains?


How does the group you are studying promote cultural education internally and to outsiders?

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