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Academic and Research Affairs

Policy on Curation of Native American Remains (C-29)

PURDUE UNIVERSITY
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
EXECUTIVE MEMORANDUM No. C-29

September 10, 1993

To: Vice Presidents, Chancellors, Deans, Directors, and Heads of Schools, Divisions, Departments and Offices

Re: Policy on Curation of Native American Remains

Human remains and associated funerary objects represent an important source of information about past cultures, and are an indispensable component of the history of humankind. The curation and study of human remains and funerary objects acquired in a legitimate manner are consistent with the teaching, research, and service missions of Purdue University. Such curation and study must recognize the rights of lineal descendants and members of Native American Tribes and must fulfill statutory requirements. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Public Law 101-601-November 16, 1990) should be reviewed by any person dealing with human remains or funerary objects. This policy is intended to serve as a guide for the curation of Native American remains at Purdue University. All human remains and associated funerary objects will be treated with respect and in accordance with the sensitivity of feelings of existing peoples regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture.

Purdue University will accept only those human remains and funerary objects which have been legitimately acquired. All such items will be documented as to their origin by appropriate means, e.g., historical and archaeological records.

The principal goal of curation and study of human remains and associated funerary objects is the advancement and appreciation of past native groups and societies for the benefit of all humankind. Toward this goal, all objects will be studied using current anthropological methods and techniques by researchers following accepted scientific procedures. The scientific value of all skeletal remains will be assessed. Objects will be protected against physical deterioration, theft, or poor handling. They will be stored in protective containers, and access will be allowed only to legitimate researchers and students. Human remains acquired for scientific study will not be exhibited to the public. Consultation with and approval by known linear descendants or relatives with regard to exhibition of funerary objects will be sought. If there are no known living descendants or relatives, then the exhibition of funerary objects will be permitted. Visual display of photographs and illustrations of human remains and funerary objects is permitted.

Native American remains and funerary objects that have been identified as being related to living individuals or tribes will be inventoried, and official representatives of relevant tribes and state agencies will be notified for the purpose of consultation regarding the final disposal. Based on existing documentation, cultural affiliation will be assigned to human remains where possible. In situations where affiliation is indeterminate, responsibility for proof of individual relationship or tribal affiliation to human remains (including appropriate documentation) is borne by the group making the claim. Human remains lacking affiliation with existing tribes will be curated as part of the permanent collection in accordance with statutory requirements. Specific inquiries regarding the disposition and treatment of human remains and funerary objects will be handled pursuant to relevant statutes in a case-by basis.

A Committee on the Curation of Native American Remains will be appointed by the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Committee will be responsible for the implementation and execution of this policy, maintaining an inventory of Native American remains and funerary objects as required by federal law, and advising the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of changes in federal laws or regulations related to the curation of Native American remains.

Steven C. Beering
President