(Organized February 3rd, 1950)
Cherokee * Chickasaw * Choctaw * Muscogee Creek * Seminole

“NAGPRA Policy Statement”
Of July 10, 1998

This policy statement has been agreed upon by the following tribes of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes. (THE ITCFCT):
the CHEROKEE NATION OF OKLAHOMA, the CHICKASAW NATION, the CHOCTAW NATION OF OKLAHOMA, the MUSCOGEE (CREEK) NATION and the SEMINOLE NATION OF OKLAHOMA. We represent over 300,000 native people nationwide, thus the largest fedrally recognized body of blood descendants of the original inhabitants of the southeast region of the United States.

THE INTER-TRIBAL COUNCIL OF THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES looks toward the future and the possibility that this process will begin to generate a greater level of understanding and respect for the traditions and cultural heritage of Native Americans at the National and International level. This understanding can only come by incorporating contemporary Native perspectives into the interpretation and presentation of Native people’s past and present cultural realities. Cooperative endeavors to address Native rights and concerns established during the repatriation process hold the promise of strengthening the native voice of the Indigenous people’s of the Southeast Culture.

In recognizing and affirming the sovereignty of each member nation we shall implement the following: the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA); the National Museum of the American Indian Act (NMAI Act) ; the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA); the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA); the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA); the Executive Orders for Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment; the Executive Order for Indian Sacred Sites; and the White House Memorandum, Government-to-Government Relations with Native Americans Tribal Governments, and other related laws and regulations.

WE RECOGNIZE that in some cases: federal, state, private land owners and other individuals who occupy the lands we once inhabited treat our ancestral/relatives graves and sacred resources as spoils thus, defiling, desecrating, demoralizing and dehumanizing the Native American People’s.

THE ITCFCT IN CONSENSUS AGREEMENT state that by the preponderance of geographical, kinship, biological, archaeological, anthropological, linguistic, folklore, oral tradition, and historical evidence, that we share the Southeast region of the United States, which encompasses both ancestral homelands and contemporary jurisdictional areas.

WE FIRMLY AGREE we did not abandon our ancestral/relatives graves and sacred sites but forced removal to distant lands prevents us from visiting, preserving, and protecting those sacred sites comprising but not limited to the current states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

WE AGREE to support and communicate with one another in establishing a relationship for the pursuit of the repatriation of ancestral/relatives Human remains and culturally sensitive artifacts of the Southeast cultures which are in the possession of museums or stored at various repository locations throughout the United States and the World.

The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes

WE AGREE to support and defend the sacred burial sites of our ancestors and relatives, who by consanguinity, we claim a shared group identity which can be reasonably traced to historic and prehistoric “Paleo” cultures that have inhabited the Southeast region and the submerged civilizations of coastal waterways of the United States.

WE AGREE that through joint deliberations and tribal consensus we shall address mutual concerns relevant to the execution of repatriation issues involving common boundaries and common lines of descent for cultural affiliation determinations.

WE AGREE to consult with other federally recognized tribes, legitimate tribal groups and non-governmental organizations, who contribute to the repatriation and protection of culturally sensitive materials and sacred sites.

WE AGREE to establish a dialogue and develop agreements with the original inhabitants of the land within our present jurisdictional boundaries. We shall monitor and protect their culturally sensitive resources and sites, and notify those tribes who may be culturally affiliated of any disturbances.

WE AGREE to define jurisdictional boundaries for the purposes of collecting data more efficiently and to share documented information and inventories on archaeological, ethnographic, and physical anthropological materials that are collected on inspections to Museums and repositories.

WE AGREE that repatriations, reburial practices and disposition will be implemented by each tribe according to their protocol. The other Southeastern tribes will be made available for advice and offer assistance, if needed.

WE AGREE to pursue amendments in federal, state and international laws and establish a dialogue with the various agencies in developing agreements regarding the repatriation, protection, and preservation of Human remains and culturally sensitive materials.

WE AGREE that a two foot perimeter around the skeletal remains and funerary objects (associated and unassociated) constitute as part of a person. Any cleaning or washing of these bone fragments or articles is a violation of human rights. The excavated Earth remains sacred even with the absence of Human remains or funerary objects.

WE AGREE to discourage any type of scientific testing on historic or prehistoric (Paleo) Native American Human remains for the purposes of determining cultural affiliation or age dating.

WE SEPARATELY AND AS A WHOLE AGREE to claim “Culturally Unidentifiable” Native American Human remains and other cultural items from the Southeastern United States and when deemed necessary to designate a tribe or repository for temporary management of Human remains or culturally sensitive materials until a reasonable determination of cultural affiliation can be established, for purposes of reburial and protection of sacred sites.

WE SHALL educate the public regarding the spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People of the Southeast Cultures and strive to maintain tribal customs and traditions in this most sensitive issue. Our belief is that in bringing and maintaining our relations to the sacred cycle of life, we will resolve spiritual disturbances within our Native American Communities. The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes shall have sole right to amend this NAGPRA Policy Statement when deemed necessary.

This document was approved by Resolution 98-28 of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes on July 10, 1998 at Fountainhead Resort near Checotah, OK