On March 15, 2010, the new regulations regarding the disposition of culturally unidentifiable individuals was finally published in the Federal Register. This is a huge step for the return of over a hundred thousand Indian remains. It’s hard to believe 100,000 Indians are boxed up in museums across the country, but it’s true. This new rule is exactly what is needed at this time, to help get the these ancestors back into the ground. Granted, there will be a learning curve and the process will take some time for everyone to understand, but the process is not terribly complicated and the NAGPRA Program is going to offer assistance in interpreting this new rule.
This changes my job vastly. Before, it was asking museums if they wanted to partner in a disposition with the tribes in Michigan. This new rule makes it mandatory for museums to work on their CUI collection in one way or another. For years, we have been hearing from museums “we are waiting for the new regs to come out”. Well, the new regs are officially out and you can bet we will be submitting our request for remains as soon as we can.