The effects repatriation has on a tribal community are varied and many times, not publicly displayed. For example, the feeling of accomplishment of doing something positive for your ancestors, to keep time honored traditions of care taking for dead. Fighting for what you believe in and seeing your work and energy be productive. I use repatriation many times as an educational tool for younger generations here, instilling a sense of pride in what we do and a sense of identity. These and many other things are not usually talked about in typical NAGPRA discussions, but to me, they are the core of the matter. So much discussion is about the law but what about the people the law effects? Someday I would like to talk with an elder, who in their time has seen repatriation come full circle. Somebody who seen remains/sacred items stolen from their home, sit in museums for years and then have the remains/items returned and/or reburied. This would provide a wonderful example of what tribes have been dealing with for years and how it helps to have what is ours returned.
I think if museums made an honest effort to hear the tribes out, so much more would be accomplished. It’s amazing the differences in opinions that I run into. People willing to work with the tribes right away, wanting to know the next step for repatriation and on the other hand, museums who won’t even return a phone call. CUI is the best example of this. As it stands now, a museum can either return their CUI to tribes through a disposition or not do anything at all. Either way, the museum is not out of compliance with the law.