Repatriation & NAGPRA

In the interest of transparency, KU Office of DEIB will use this webpage to provide updates, resources, and answers to the common questions asked about the repatriation of ancestors and artifacts from the University to tribal nations.
Re-membering & Reconnecting. Friday, November 4 from 2:00-3:00pm in the Main Lobby of the Lied Center of Kansas. Join us for an important event with Chief Duane Hollow Horn Bear (Sicangu Lakota from the Aske Gluwipi Tiospay).  The event is sponsored by the KU Native American Initiatives, the KU Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging, and the KU Office of the Provost.

KU Repatriation Series

Re-membering & Reconnecting with Chief Duane Hollow Horn Bear (Sicangu Lakota from the Aske Gluwipi Tiospay).

Friday, November 4 from 2:00-3:00pm in the Main Lobby of the Lied Center of Kansas, 1600 Stewart Drive, Lawrence Kansas.

KU Calendar Event

Most Recent Update:

The University of Kansas has grown to be an institution with a distinguished record of research and innovation. Unfortunately, many historical research practices are interwoven with settler colonialism. As we grow, learn, and work to right the harm created by those practices, new updates and disclosures come to light.

A recent re-disclosure from the KU Natural History Museum and Spencer Museum of Art staff identified that the University is in possession of culturally unidentified individual remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony remain stored in Spooner Hall and Lippincott Hall Annex. In keeping with NAGPRA and the values of our institution, KU will continue to facilitate prompt, respectful, and culturally appropriate repatriation efforts that include NAGPRA protocols. 

Currently, we are in the process of verifying the inventory across campus that was previously crafted per NAGPRA requirements and that accurately documents previous repatriation efforts. As a University, we must continue to give attention to the difficult truth that culturally unidentified individual remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony remain on our campus.  

The Provost apologizes to our Native community and recognizes the painful process of repatriation. To fully understand the implications of this situation, the University will prioritize the needs of our Native American community while continuing to support, listen, and learn.

Through a commitment to creating meaningful institutional memory, the University’s process will include the following initial steps:

  • Forming an advisory committee with representatives from the Office of Native American Initiatives, Indigenous Studies Program, Native staff and faculty, and appropriate experts.
  • Consulting with tribal nations in accordance with NAGPRA
  • Supporting the need for spiritual leaders for students, staff, and faculty
  • Auditing all KU collections to present updated and accurate information
  • Securing the Indigenous Studies Program a space out of Lippincott Hall
  • Supporting KU Native community gathering opportunities
  • Implementing institutional repatriation policies and procedures.

We are fully committed to taking culturally appropriate actions as directed by the advisory committee. The intent in sharing this announcement is to publicly apologize to Native communities and peoples, past, present, and future, and to apologize to the tribal nations across North America. 

Steps Toward Repatriation

  • Forming an advisory committee with representatives from the Office of Native American Initiatives, Indigenous Studies Program, Native staff and faculty, and appropriate experts.
  • Consulting with tribal nations in accordance with NAGPRA
  • Supporting the need for spiritual leaders for students, staff, and faculty
  • Auditing all KU collections to present updated and accurate information
  • Securing the Indigenous Studies Program a space out of Lippincott Hall
  • Supporting KU Native community gathering opportunities
  • Implementing institutional repatriation policies and procedures

Previous Communication

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

It has come to our attention that the University of Kansas is in possession of Native American ancestors in its museum collections. While some efforts have been made in the past to repatriate items, the process was never completed. The continued possession of these human remains causes great pain for many in the Native community and beyond. 

As a university, we have a responsibility to follow the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a federal law enacted by Congress in 1990, which sets criteria for tribal nations to reclaim human remains (ancestors) and funerary objects held by museums. The University has a responsibility to tribal nations and the Native American community to continue a relationship built on dignity, respect, and enduring support.

We are fully committed to the work of creating meaningful institutional memory by properly repatriating the ancestors and funerary objects. We are working with members in our Native American community and outside consultants specializing in repatriation.

We understand that we have an ongoing responsibility to be transparent and share as much information as possible. At this point, we are still gathering information and we will be sharing more detail in the near future. Questions and concerns may be directed to the Office of the Provost, provost@ku.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Repatriation is the process of returning human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony to the tribal nations from which they originated.

NAGPRA is the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a federal law enacted by congress in 1990. NAGPRA sets the criteria for Native American Tribes to reclaim human remains (ancestors), funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony that are wrongfully held by Universities and museums that receive federal funds.

The National NAGPRA website has more information about the law and its legislative history.

NAGPRA requires agencies and institutions that receive federal funds (including museums, universities, state agencies, and local governments) to repatriate or transfer Native American ancestral remains and other cultural items to the appropriate parties by:

  • consulting with lineal descendants, Indian Tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations on Native American human remains and cultural items;
  • protecting and planning for Native American human remains and cultural items that may be removed from Federal or tribal lands;
  • identifying and reporting all Native American human remains and cultural items in Inventories and Summaries of holdings or collections; and
  • giving notice via the Federal Register before repatriating or transferring human remains and cultural items.

Students wishing to change the location of their class due to ancestral remains should contact Arika Sprecker (Associate Director, Student Access Center) to request accommodations.

The best way to be in solidarity with students who cannot be in buildings that currently house remains is to provide students with information to request accommodations. Students wishing to change the location of their class due to ancestral remains should contact Arika Sprecker (Associate Director, Student Access Center) to request accommodations.

Continue Your Education




KU Support Resources

  • Care Referral

    Student Affairs Student Care Referral Team strives to develop, facilitate, and coordinate a university-wide program of care and support for students.

  • Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS):

    CAPS help students with issues related to psychological problems. Individual sessions, group sessions, and psychiatric services are available. Contact: 785-864-2277

  • Reflection Rooms

    Seven spaces across the Lawrence campus are available to provide a quiet and private space for individuals to exercise expressions of their religious, spiritual, and meditative practices.

  • Student Access Center

    The Student Access Center assists students with facilitating accommodations including classroom changes.

  • Employee Assistance Program

    Provides KU employees with information, short-term counseling, advice and referrals to licensed professionals.

  • KU Psych Clinic

    Serves the University of Kansas and the greater Lawrence area community by providing an array of high-quality, affordable mental health services.

  • Ombuds Office

    A confidential, impartial, informal and independent office on campus where members of the campus community can discuss issues they may be facing as a student, faculty or staff faculty member.

  • Office of Civil Rights & Title IX

    This office serve as formal notice to the university and legally require to follow up with all those involved. It is appropriate to submit almost any incident to the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX as they can investigate a situation.




Non-KU Support Resources

  • Native Crisis Text Line

    Feelings of anger and isolation stemming from colonization may feel deeper than ever. If you need someone to talk to, text NATIVE or INDIGENOUS to 741741 to reach a volunteer cultural competent Crisis Counselor.

  • Indian Health Services Find Healthcare

    IHS Find Healthcare is an online locator and map for Indian Health Service, Tribal or Urban Indian Health Program facilities.

  • Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center

    Provides caring, effective and confidential services that address diverse mental health needs.

  • Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters

    If you’re thinking about suicide, concerned for a friend, grieving, feeling hopeless, or just need to talk to someone about something that is going on in your life.

  • Scott Bear Don’t Walk, LMFT

    Scott Bear Don’t Walk (Crow Tribe of Western Montana) is a therapist in the Lawrence, KS area who is available for culturally informed and affirming counseling. Individuals, couples, or families can call, text, or email Scott using the information on his website.

Suggest an Educational Resource

We keep this page up to date with the most relevant information and current best-practices. We welcome your suggestions and input.
Suggestion Form