Sovereignty and Cultural Property Policy in Museums

February, 2000


This paper asks how museums can develop cultural property policies in museums that are based on concepts of tribal sovereignty. It finds that the National Museum of the American Indian Act (1989) and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) provide little guidance in these efforts. Both pieces of legislation, however, do recognize two sources of sovereignty within Indian tribes-one political and the other spiritual. Drawing on these two aspects of sovereignty, the paper concludes by suggesting policy guidelines for collections care within a museum.

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