Tribal Regulations

       In addition to federal and state regulations, some human remains, ritual objects and sites may be regulated by tribal governments.  Twenty Indian reservations exist in Arizona and each may have regulations regarding human remains, ritual objects and sites of archeological, historic or sacred value.  In addition to any specialized regulations, tribes may also charge violators with theft, trespassing, or other common criminal offenses, as the situation warrants.

    Remember that NAGPRA and most federal regulations would also apply to reservation land.

    Here, I use the example of the Navajo Nation Code.  Because the Navajo Nation Code is more detailed than other native nation's codes, it is atypical.  But it illustrates that other jurisdictions must often be considered.

    To see the Jemez Pueblo's statements about NAGPRA and their repatriation policy, click here -

    To see the web site of the American Indian Ritual Object Repatriation Foundation, which helps tribes recover objects of patrimony click here -

Navajo Nation Code (NNC) (found at KF 8228.N3 A5 1993 at U. of Arizona law library)

    Title 19, Chapter 11 of the NNC contains the Navajo Nation Cultural Resources Protection Act, enacted in 1988.  It provides for a Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Office and a Navajo Nation Archeology Department.  It prohibits altering, damaging, excavating, defacing, destroying, or removing cultural properties from Navajo lands.  It also prohibits selling, purchasing, exchanging, or transporting cultural resources from Navajo lands.

    It establishes a permitting system for those who want to observe, record, or excavate archeological areas.

    Criminal penalties for Indians are up to a year in jail and up to $1000 in fines.

    Civil penalties apply to all individuals.  Violators are responsible for the value of the damage they cause and up to treble damages.  The Navajo Nation can also seize the cultural resources removed and the equipment used to excavate it.

    Title 19, section 383, is a criminal statute which punishes the desecration of religious and traditional artifacts.  Penalties are up to 6 months in jail and up to $500 in fines.