On November 16, 1990, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) became law. This law (Section 3001 through 3015 of Volume 25 of the United States Code):
- Establishes procedures and legal standards for the repatriation of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony by federal agencies and certain museums, educational and other institutions, and state and local governments.
- Recognizes certain Tribal, Native Hawaiian and individual rights in regard to burial sites located on federal and Tribal lands.
This federal Act is based upon the unique relationship between Native Americans and the federal government.
Since the passage of this law, federal agencies, museums, educational institutions, and state and local governments have contacted the Tribe when objects falling under NAGPRA are discovered, intentionally or inadvertently, within collections specific to each organization.
To assess the large volume of notifications from every agency, a Repatriation Committee was formed on March 4, 1997. The objective of the Repatriation Committee is to exercise the powers of NAGPRA for the sole purpose of returning to the Tribe the human remains, sacred objects, funerary objects, and objects of cultural patrimony that are culturally affiliated to the Peoria.
Currently, the most exciting action coming together is a cultural affiliation of Indiana University’s vast collection of human remains which were excavated from Angel Mounds during the late 1930s and early 1940s in the Work Progress Administration era. This is one of the largest collections of culturally unaffiliated remains in the country. The tribes which have ancestral heritage in Indiana have formed a coalition of tribes as well as Indiana University NAGPRA staff in order to attempt to culturally identify and repatriate as much of this collection as possible.
The Tribe is also currently in communications with the Cincinnati Museum about initiating consultation in regards to the museum’s inventory of human remains as well as culturally unidentifiable objects (CUI). With proper cooperation it is my hope that we can assist the museum in identifying some of these CUIs and ancestors in order to repatriate them to the correct tribe and attempt to lay them to rest and get them off a shelf in an archive.
Other efforts focused on culturally affiliated collections continue. Consultation with various entities and other Native American tribes to determine the cultural identity and affiliation for human remains and artifacts is ongoing. Information is continuously posted in online databases on the NAGPRA website (http://www.nps.gov/nagpra/ONLINEDB/index.htm).
Locally, the cultural resources personnel and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers of tribes in Ottawa County meet quarterly. Our tribes may share ancestral lands, or they may overlap, bringing our interests together in NAGPRA issues that occur on those lands. The group has seen evidence that proves a unified voice from tribes in dealing with NAGPRA issues is highly beneficial both to the tribes and to the entity being dealt with. A shared past makes it necessary to come together in the present and future to make the best effort to protect the history and culture of each tribe.
Section 106 Consultations
Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and its implementing regulations in 36 CFR Part 800, requests for consultation are received in the Tribal Office to consult on projects that occur on Peoria historical lands. The entities from whom requests are received include but are not limited to the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Federal Emergency Management Administration, Federal Communications Commission, Illinois Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration Illinois Division, Kentucky Division, and Indiana Division, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Oklahoma Departments of Transportation. Also included are many local governments and their consultants.
Elder Care and Disability Reimbursement Program
On October 1, 2015, the Tribe began this program that I am honored to oversee. Some 166 applications have been received during this Fiscal year, and folks are not having a hard time coming up with $1000 worth of receipts. Some recipients have voiced their appreciation for this program. Those notes are passed on to the Business Committee. I am looking forward to receiving more applications and receipts.
The schoolhouse restoration has been completed. In the future the interior will be furnished with period specific desks in addition to other furniture appropriate for a school setting. The beginning stages of installation of exterior restroom facilities has begun and we are waiting for the archaeological survey to be completed so we may begin the construction of the facilities.
Special Projects Manager / NAGPRA