Our Responsibility

In 1996, UW-Madison’s Department of Anthropology began actively participating in NAGPRA by reporting the number of Native Ancestors in our care to the National NAGPRA Office. Over the subsequent years, we have completed consultations with 14 Tribes, and continue to prioritize a fostered positive relationship with all Tribes who have a cultural interest in the state of Wisconsin.

Active Repatriation

From the period of 2006 through today, UW-Madison has continued to prioritize repatriation. Our ethical and legal obligations assist us in transitioning these ancestors through active consultation with our Tribal partners. We have successfully secured funding to assist with this process through National NAGPRA Program-sponsored grants in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2021. We also actively serve as a resource to other UW campuses and Wisconsin institutions to provide repatriation assistance.

To date, we have submitted 18 publications in the Federal Register, representing 163 ancestors and 179 funerary objects from the state of Wisconsin.

Our continued philosophy of transparency and tribal and federal collaboration has resulted in the repatriation of over 400 ancestors and over 3,500 funerary objects.

Care and Trust

UW-Madison recognizes and supports the cultural sensitivity of the ancestors in our care and strives to meet restricted access, storage, and handling requirements as requested by our Tribal partners.

NAGPRA Step-by-Step

The Universities of Wisconsin approved a System-wide NAGPRA Compliance Policy, UW System Administrative Policy 645, “Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Compliance,” on October 31, 2023. This policy provides guidance on consistent NAGPRA compliance across the UW campuses.

UW-Madison is currently drafting a campus-wide NAGPRA Policy that addresses acquisition, care, and repatriation. This policy development is in progress, expanding on the recent System policy to address logistics specific to this campus.

Stay tuned for additional information on our campus process. Currently, you can learn more about our legal compliance activities by selecting each of the following:

Summaries          Inventories          Publications

NAGPRA Assessment

UW-Madison determines the minimum number of individuals in our care through bioarchaeological examination, which is only performed after consultation with our Tribal partners. Any information gathered as a result of this assessment remains the property of the UW-Madison campus. The use of photography, inappropriate handling or care, additional disruptive analysis, or publication is prohibited unless approved during Tribal consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please visit the NAGPRA Resources page for answers to frequently asked questions.