Systemwide review of revised policy on UC Native American Cultural Affiliation and Repatriation

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Scott Brandt, Vice Chancellor for Research

The University of California Office of the President invites comments on the proposed revisions to the Presidential policy on Native American Cultural Affiliation and Repatriation. The proposed policy substantively revises the existing policy and Procedures on Curation and Repatriation of Human Remains and Cultural Items (“Current Policy”). The policy pertains to the treatment and repatriation of Native American and Native Hawaiian human remains and cultural items under the University’s stewardship and the University’s compliance with the Federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (“NAGPRA”), its accompanying regulations, and the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (“CalNAGPRA”). 

California AB 2836 (enacted in 2018 and now incorporated into CalNAGPRA) requires the University to revise its Current Policy. In collaboration with the Cultural Affiliation and Repatriation Policy Advisory Workgroup (“Workgroup”)[1] established by Provost Michael Brown, UC developed Version 1 of this revised policy (“Policy Version 1”), which underwent systemwide review in August 2019. Policy Version 1 was also distributed to stakeholders across California for comment, including California Native American tribes on the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) contact list and the NAHC itself. With the Workgroup, UC drafted a second version of this revised policy (“Policy Version 2”) in response to the feedback from the Academic Senate, Native American tribes, and the NAHC. UC then engaged in further consultation with California Native American tribes by inviting them to attend four public work sessions on UC campuses (UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Davis) in January and February 2020. In addition, UC representatives met with tribes one-on-one as requested to hear individual concerns. UC deliberated with the Workgroup to discuss concerns raised during the public work sessions, the one-on-one meetings, and letters sent by tribes and the NAHC. In conjunction with the Workgroup, UC drafted “Policy Version 3,” which is now being considered for systemwide review. Please visit for more details.

Below is a list of the significant changes present in Policy Version 3 from the Current Policy.

  • Creates a list of principles that emphasize the repatriation of Native American and Native Hawaiian human remains as a fundamental objective and value of the University.
  • Reconstitutes the Systemwide Committee and Campus Committees, if necessary, to include equal Native American representation.
  • Shifts final approvals of repatriation to the campus from UCOP to reduce delays in repatriation; the Systemwide Committee and UCOP will provide an oversight role and hear appeals of campus decisions.
  • Provides a detailed description of the Repatriation process via a Flowchart and Flowchart Narrative.
  • Provides a detailed description of the Consultation process all campuses must use when engaging with Native American tribes.
  • Requires campuses with NAGPRA/CalNAGPRA-eligible Cultural Items to appoint a Repatriation Coordinator to work with and assist Native American tribes to facilitate Repatriation.
  • Incorporates a process for disposition of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains and Cultural Items to either federally recognized tribes or non-federally recognized tribes (including California Indian Tribes) via NAGPRA (43 C.F.R. §10.11) and/or CalNAGPRA (Ca H&SC §§8010-30).
  • Requires campuses create repatriation implementation plans including the following elements: invitations for consultation and proactive reevaluations of all previous determinations of culturally unidentifiable human remains or associated funerary objects; outreach to culturally affiliated tribes; outreach to controlling agencies to prompt and encourage their repatriation efforts; budgets; and timelines.
  • Prohibits research, instruction, destructive analysis, and other manipulation without tribal approval requirements.
  • Provides a more robust mechanism for tribes to appeal campus determinations.
  • Provides a means for tribes to submit complaints about the consultation process or access.
  • Provides direction for whistleblowers that would like to report noncompliance with this policy.

View the revised policy here.

Please submit comments to the Policy Coordination Office at by close of business June 23, 2020.

[1] The Workgroup is comprised of four members nominated by the Academic Senate and four members nominated by the Native American Advisory Council, a body established by President Janet Napolitano to advise on a broad range of issues pertaining to Native Americans and Native Hawaiians at the University.