Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS)

Degree Name

Interdisciplinary Studies

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Chair

Heather Cahoon

Committee Co-chair

Kelly Dixon

Commitee Members

Dave Beck


Law, Anthropology, Indigenous Studies, Alberta Canada, Montana, USA


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Criminal Law | Cultural Heritage Law | Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law | Law


ABSTRACT: Native American and Indigenous communities across the United States and Canada have lost an extensive amount of human remains and sacred artifacts to non-Native people exhuming Native American and Indigenous burial sites that may have been dug up for personal gain, stolen, placed in museums, or left in the hands of non-Native collectors. The repatriation of human remains and sacred artifacts to Native nations can be a lengthy, political, and challenging process yet it is worth the effort for Native people. Native American advocacy and evolving public sentiment toward Native people have led to legislative advancements in the United States and Canada that have made it somewhat easier in certain circumstances to return the skeletal remains of loved ones and invaluable items of cultural patrimony to the original owners. Today, in the United States there is a repatriation law in place to help Native people in this predicament. Unfortunately, there is no across-the-board repatriation laws or legal process in place right now in Canada for Indigenous people. This thesis explains why repatriation laws are urgently needed and provides a review and comparison of the legal process and repatriation laws in the US and Canada. My research concludes that Indigenous Canadians could benefit by working with the Canadian government to adopt and implement repatriation laws similar to those already in place in the US.



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