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American institutions still hold more than 110,000 sets of Native American remains. Why?

Images of Native Americans and artifacts are part of the Making a Way Out of No Way exhibit on the third floor Community Galleries at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Images of Native Americans and artifacts are part of the Making a Way Out of No Way exhibit on the third floor Community Galleries at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

U.S. institutions still hold more than 110,000 sets of Native American remains, according to a new investigation by ProPublica.

They’re still being held today despite the passage of the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. That law is supposed to aid in the return of remains and cultural items. But since its passing, many universities and museums have failed to comply. 

Last month, Harvard University repatriated the remains of 313 Native people to the Wampanoag tribes.And In October, the Wiyot tribe says they received 20 sets of remains from the University of California, Berkley. The two universities still hold the highest number of remains of any American institution in their collections. 

 Why has the repatriation process been so slow after over three decades of legislation?

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Michelle Harven, Avery Jessa Chapnick