Sen. Schatz Leads Oversight Hearing on Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, led an oversight hearing titled, “The Long Journey Home: Advancing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act’s Promise After 30 Years of Practice” to hear from the National Park Service, the Government Accountability Office, and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) practitioners on lessons learned over the past thirty years since enactment of the groundbreaking law and areas where Congress can help improve implementation.

Schatz started the hearing by underscoring the critical role NAGPRA continues to play in our nation’s reckoning with shameful past federal policies that failed Native peoples.

“For decades … NAGPRA has helped heal the pain felt by generations through return and repatriation of [ancestral] remains to their Native communities,” said Chairman Schatz. “[While] more than 30 years [after NAGPRA’s enactment], over 200,000 ancestral remains and approximately 2.5 million associated funerary items have been identified … the journey continues for tens of thousands of ancestors and millions of cultural items to find their way home. And the promise of NAGPRA continues.”

After presentation of a traditional oli by Nāpua Greig, the following witnesses participated in the oversight hearing:

  • Joy Beasley, Associate Director, Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Anna Maria Ortiz, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Washington, D.C.
  • Carmen Hulu Lindsey, Chair, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Honolulu, HI
  • Dr. Valerie Grussing, Executive Director, National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Rosita Worl, President, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Juneau, AK