Native American activists of the civil rights era leveled heavy critiques at archaeology and anthropology for their prior support of colonial legislation and lack of sensitivity towards Native viewpoints. Archaeology in particular was taken to task for the destruction of numerous burial sites and the theft of thousands of Native American bodily remains and cultural items for over a century. The decades-long efforts by Native Americans and their non-Indian allies (which included some archaeologists) to secure the return of these remains and objects paid off in 1990. The passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) mandates that all federally funded institutions possessing Native American remains and artifacts return them to tribes able to demonstrate historical and cultural connections to the items. As a consequence of Native American opposition to the racial and cultural insensitivities within archaeology, social scientists in general have learned that Native people can no longer be counted on to passively sit back and accept what outsiders say and write about them. Today, archaeology is a much more collaborative effort between archaeologists and Indians, with Native viewpoints often serving as focal points underpinning studies rather than as quaint addendums or trivial postscripts.
"Hopi Oral Tradition and the Archaeology of Identity,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 3, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol3/iss1/10