Illinois NAGPRA Office Selects First Program Officer
By Tyler Wolpert
From human remains and funerary objects to culturally significant artwork, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Office at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is committed to the repatriation of its Native American collections to tribal communities and lineal descendants. New NAGRPA Program Officer Krystiana Krupa is central to those efforts.
Krupa comes to Illinois from Indiana University after earning a PhD in anthropology and working in Indiana’s NAGPRA office since 2015. She will help lead Illinois’ repatriation efforts with communities throughout the U.S., and especially with tribes originally from Illinois and the Midwest. “I’m excited to be working in this area,” said Krupa. “I’ll be collaborating with a lot of the tribal communities that I've worked with in the past.”
The majority of the university's collections are from Illinois, whose descendant communities are spread across several states. Additionally, several collections are from other parts of the U.S., so this program will involve work with tribal nations across the nation. Key to the repatriation process is engaging tribal communities and lineal descendants in a respectful and constructive way. “I’m looking forward to strengthening the relationships I’ve already made and developing new ties with communities throughout the country,” said Krupa.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 established a process for museums and institutions that receive federal funds to return certain Native American human remains and cultural items to lineal descendants, culturally affiliated Indian tribes, or Native Hawaiian organizations. The Illinois NAGPRA office’s activities will be informed by the NAGPRA Policies and Procedures Committee, which will develop guidance for campus-wide compliance and will serve as an advisory board to campus efforts.
Krupa’s work as a program officer will focus on comprehensively cataloguing human remains and cultural items in Illinois’ collections and researching their relationships to living peoples. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the return of these items to their respective descendant communities. “It is essential for institutions to make strong NAGPRA efforts because it is one of the most effective ways the university can address restorative justice in our relationships with tribal nations,” said Krupa.
More information about the Illinois NAGPRA office can be found at nagpra.illinois.edu.
If you have additional questions about NAGPRA, please contact NAGPRA@Illinois.edu. For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs at Illinois.