Date of Award

Spring 2022

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. Zackary Gilmore

Committee Member

Dr. Ashley Kistler

Committee Member

Dr. Shan-Estelle Brown


This thesis focuses on the impact and unrealized potentials of NAGPRA for Indigenous Americans and professional archaeologists following the first thirty years of the law’s existence. After providing some necessary background on the NAGPRA legislation and the context of the law’s passage, I examine these issues through three distinct methods. The first method focuses on a review of published Indigenous and archaeological literature to identify changes in sentiment around the law as well as to identify known hurdles within the process. The second revolves around my experience preparing a NAGPRA inventory for the Rollins College Archaeology Lab. Specifically, I reflect on the issues that made completing the inventory and identifying necessary information difficult. The third method involves an in-depth analysis of the archival records associated with three collections of Indigenous skeletal remains housed within the lab. This case-study analysis highlights similarities and differences among the three collections in terms of the NAGPRA-related challenges they present, while also emphasizing their applicability to broader discussions of ongoing issues with the repatriation process. This work demonstrates that while NAGPRA has made great strides towards repatriating cultural items and repairing relationships with Indigenous peoples, barriers within the process such as unclear provenience, inexperience, and a lack of personnel have impeded this process slowing the return of cultural items. Through an understanding of barriers that exist nationally and the case study analysis, this project looks to identify solutions for small institutions like Rollins College dealing with NAGPRA collections.


Committee Member: Dr. Robert Vander Poppen

Rights Holder

Zoe Milburn