News FocusScience and Native Rights

Grave Disputes

Science  08 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6001, pp. 166-170
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6001.166-a

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Summary

Twenty years ago, the U.S. Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which gives Indians a chance to reclaim their ancient dead. This summer, the Department of the Interior office that oversees NAGPRA came under fire from the U.S. Government Accountability Office for poor record keeping, questionable decision making, and inadequate resources. Now new rules put into effect in May extend the law to give tribes a way to recover even those ancient bones that cannot be linked to an existing people. The controversy over the revised law exposes the divide between some Native Americans and scientists.

*With reporting by Keith Kloor, a writer in New York City.