Statement on Native American Ancestral Human Remains and Objects

Last Updated: January 2024

The University of Michigan is committed to the return of all Native American Ancestral human remains and Objects as required by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). As the University honors its legal requirements, we are equally committed to completing this work in a careful and respectful manner with our Native Nation partners.

To fulfill these commitments, the University works in close cooperation and coordination with the NAGPRA Designees and Consultants of Native Nations. Through this mutual effort, the University is working to restore and renew the close relationships that are integral to the University’s history and purpose, and will, hopefully, help contribute to meaningful collaborations for the future.   

Under the direction of the Office of the Vice President for Research, the University created a NAGPRA Advisory Committee in 2010. This Committee is comprised of U-M members and members of Native Nations. Its role is to develop policies and procedures, and address NAGPRA-related matters, to help ensure the University is in full compliance with federal law, while guiding the University to help promote trust and develop pathways of cooperation with Native Nations and communities.

All Native American Ancestral human remains and their belongings held at the University are, and will remain, available for consultation and transfer under NAGPRA until they have been returned to the Native Nations with whom they belong and who have a legal right to them. The manner and pace of this process is co-directed by Tribal and University representatives. It is being carried out in accordance with the requirements of NAGPRA as well as the requests of our Native Nation partners out of respect for their cultural practices and acknowledgement of their Tribal sovereignty. 

The University appreciates that this process is thorough and can feel tedious and regrets that its history is painful for its Native Nations partners, among whom are current and former faculty, staff, and students. U-M is grateful to them and everyone whose patience and perseverance has, and will continue, to guide this work to its completion.

For more information, please visit the U-M NAGPRA Office website at

Geoffrey Thün  
Associate Vice President for Research – Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts
Professor of Architecture

William Secunda
Managing Director
U-M Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Office