The Association on American Indian Affairs has built a national and international effort assisting Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples in the United States with domestic and international repatriation.
Repatriation is the return of Indigenous Ancestral remains, their burial belongings, and sacred and cultural objects back to their original Nations and lineal descendants. All of these types of tangible cultural heritage belong to Native Nations and are the national patrimony of those Nations. There is no individual or entity that has the authority to remove these items from the Nation.
Only the free, prior and informed consent from the Native Nation can transfer ownership of these sensitive items to someone else. Native Nations have never given up their inherent sovereignty over their cultural heritage.
The Association has been a national leader advocating for the repatriation of Native American cultural heritage since its founding. The looting and trafficking of Native Ancestors and their burial belongings from their resting places, and the illicit trading and collecting of sacred objects and cultural heritage is an abuse of Indigenous human rights recognized by Articles 11 and 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Learn more about Repatriation
The Need for Religious Freedom and Human Rights: The Reckoning of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, featuring Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee - Red Hoop Talk
NAGPRA at Berkeley Pt. 1 Shannon O'Loughlin by Indigenous United (soundcloud.com)
Challenge 2.0 Reclaiming Their Own Part One, with Shannon O'Loughlin and Jay Julius - YouTube
Challenge 2.0 Reclaiming Their Own Part Two, with Shannon O'Loughlin and Jay Julius - YouTube
A Legacy Revealed | Podcast on Spotify, Episode 4 (at time 18:45) with Shannon O'Loughlin, Sonya Atalay, Shannon Martin and Colleen Medicine
From Repatriation to Rematriation: Honoring the Ancestors and Their Seeds, with Sonya Atalay, Shannon Martin and David Michener - Red Hoop Talk
What we do
The Association contributes to the development of legislation and progressive policy, and has provided advocacy for the creation and passage of the National Museum of the American Indian Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, PROTECT Patrimony Resolution, and the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act.
We develop training and technical assistance for Tribes, museums and practitioners, including our Annual Repatriation Conference and webinars on topics including domestic and international repatriation, developing Tribal laws and implementing a repatriation program, and creating strategies to obtain repatriation from private collectors domestically and internationally.
The Association has developed “A Guide to International Repatriation: Starting An Initiative in Your Community.”
The Association provides a centralized space for traditionalists, Tribal cultural preservation specialists and other experts to collaborate on best practices and create usable guides and templates for others in its Repatriation Working Group.
The Association has a recognized and established annual conference on Repatriation.