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What is CalNAGPRA?

The California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (known as CalNAGPRA) was passed in 2001 and applies to state agencies and museums that receive state funding. These entities who are in possession or control over collections of human remains or cultural items must provide the Native American Heritage Commission inventories of their collections and to repatriate these items to tribes that have a traceable relationship to them. Under CalNAGPRA, “museum” is broadly defined to include institutions of higher education such as universities, colleges or other educational institutions.

What Is Protected Under CalNAGPRA?

Native American cultural objects including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects integral to the identity of the tribe that were or are intentionally or inadvertently discovered are protected by CalNAGPRA.

What Rights Do Tribes Have If A Protected Object Is Discovered?

Under AB52, California tribes have the ability to establish, through a formal notice letter, a standing request to consult with a lead agency regarding any proposed project subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the geographic area with which the tribe is traditionally and culturally affiliated. AB 52 specifies that a project that may significantly affect, damage, or cause a substantial adverse change of a tribal cultural resource or on the environment requires agency consultation with the tribe affiliated with the geographical area of the proposed project.

What is Tribal Consultation?

California law provides that tribal “consultation” means the meaningful and timely process of seeking, discussing, and considering carefully the views of others, in a manner that is cognizant of all parties’ cultural values and, where feasible, seeking agreement. Tribal consultation should be an ongoing process, not a single event. The intent of AB 52 is to ensure that tribal governments and local, public agencies, and project leaders have tribal information available, through consultation, early in the CEQA process to identify and address potential adverse impacts to tribal cultural resources in the project area.

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