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Update on NAGPRA Compliance and Related Work

November 16, 2022

The below message was sent on Nov. 16, 2022

Dear Bryn Mawr Students, Faculty and Staff,
We are writing to update you on our progress reviewing our special collections since our fall 2021 update to ensure the College‚Äôs compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). We are also providing an update on our department collections inventory and policy work as well.

The Bryn Mawr College NAGPRA committee continues to work through this process with support of NAGPRA consultants Bernstein & Associates and in conversations with Indigenous Tribes. Through consultation we have been able to repatriate ancestors and associated funerary items through the national NAGPRA process. During the next twelve months, we expect to continue meeting additional repatriation requests. NAGPRA work will be ongoing as Tribes contact the College in the future.

Our notice of inventory completion was published by the National Park Service in August stating that our inventory efforts uncovered connections between the small number of fragmentary human remains and associated funerary and cultural objects and the federally recognized Native American Tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations. Notice was given to several Tribes and the federal notice allowed other Native American Tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations to request transfer of control by September 19th. The ancestors were repatriated to one Tribe and several additional repatriation requests for associated funerary objects and cultural objects have been received and are being processed.
Apart from the NAGPRA compliance work, in 2021 the Bryn Mawr Departmental Collections Committee began developing an inventory of all human biological material that may be on campus. That work is now completed, with human skeletal remains documented in Anthropology, Biology, Geology, and Special Collections. In instances where the provenience of skeletal material was known, the remains were repatriated or are in the process of being repatriated to their places of origin. For other material, particularly where the provenience of the remains is unknown, we aim to store the collections according to contemporary best practices. We are dedicated to stewarding this human biological material in the most ethical ways possible, including repatriation.
The cross-departmental group, comprised of representatives from the departments of Anthropology, Biology, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Geology, Museum Studies, Psychology, Special Collections, and the Provost's Office, will be working this academic year to complete a new policy statement related to human remains at the College. The group will continue discussing topics such as the best course of action for items brought to the College in the past from sources that were deemed acceptable at the time of acquisition, as well as ethical frameworks for considering any future acquisitions.
Kimberly Wright Cassidy, President and Professor of Psychology
Gina Siesing, Chief Information Officer & Constance A. Jones Director of Libraries

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