[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 112 (Wednesday, June 11, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 33482-33483]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-13622]



Office of the Secretary

43 CFR Part 10

RIN 1024-AD98

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 
Regulations, Definition of Indian Tribe

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Department is confirming the interim final rule published 
and effective on July 5, 2011, removing the definition of Indian tribe 
because it is inconsistent with the statutory definition of that term. 
The July 5, 2011, publication stated that we would review comments on 
the interim final rule and either confirm the rule or initiate a 
proposed rulemaking. We are confirming the rule without change.

DATES: Effective Date: June 11, 2014.

National NAGPRA Program, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW., 
Washington, DC 20240, or by telephone: (202) 354-1479; facsimile: (202) 
371-5197; or email: sherry_hutt@nps.gov.



    The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for implementing the 
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA or Act) 
(25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.), including the issuing of appropriate 
regulations that interpret the provisions of the Act.


    The Act addresses the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, 
and Native Hawaiian organizations to certain Native American human 
remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural 
patrimony. The Act defines Indian tribe as any tribe, band, nation, or 
other organized group or community of Indians, including any Alaska 
Native village (as defined in, or established pursuant to, the Alaska 
Native Claims Settlement Act) (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), which is 
recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided 
by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians (25 
U.S.C. 3001(7)).
    The Department of the Interior (Department) published the initial 
rule to implement the Act on December 4, 1995 (60 FR 62158). That rule 
defined Indian tribe to include, in addition to any Alaska Native 
village, any Alaska Native corporation.
    From July 2009 to July 2010, at the request of Congress, the 
Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a performance audit to 
address the status of NAGPRA implementation among Federal agencies. In 
its report, ``Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act: 
After Almost 20 Years, Key Federal Agencies Still Have Not Fully 
Complied with the Act'' (Report no. GAO-10-768 (July 2010)) the GAO 
recommended, among other things, that the National NAGPRA Program, in 
conjunction with the Department's Office of the Solicitor, reassess 
whether any Alaska Native corporations should be considered as 
``eligible entities for purposes of carrying out NAGPRA . . .'' (GAO 
Report, at 55).
    The recommendation and analysis in the report created significant 
uncertainty on the part of museums and Federal agencies concerning the 
status of Alaska Native corporations under NAGPRA. The Department 
received a number of questions including whether Alaska Native 
corporations may assert claims for human remains and other cultural 
items; whether the NAGPRA requirements for consultation with Indian 
tribes apply to Alaska Native corporations; whether Alaska Native 
corporations are authorized under the law to bring matters to the 
NAGPRA Review Committee; and whether Alaska Native Corporations can be 
recipients of grants authorized by NAGPRA.
    To address these questions, and as recommended by GAO, the 
Department's Office of the Solicitor examined the legal basis for the 
existing regulatory provision that included Alaska Native corporations 
as Indian tribes under the Act. The opinion of the Solicitor's Office 
is posted on the National NAGPRA Program's Web site at http://www.nps.gov/history/nagpra.
    The Solicitor's Office found that in the Act, Congress did not 
adopt the definition of Indian tribe as it is defined in the Indian 
Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) (25 U.S.C. 
450b). Although the ISDEAA definition includes Alaska Native 
corporations, the NAGPRA definition does not. According to the 
legislative history of NAGPRA, the definition of Indian tribe in the 
Act was deliberately changed from that in the ISDEAA in order to 
``delete [ ] land owned by any Alaska Native Corporation from being 
considered as `tribal land' (136 Cong. Rec. 36,815 (1990)). 
Accordingly, the Solicitor's Office recommended that the regulatory 
definition of Indian tribe be changed to conform to the statutory 
    In response to the Solicitor's Office recommendation, the 
Department published an interim final rule that removed and reserved 
paragraph (b)(2) of 43 CFR 10.2 that had contained the regulatory 
definition of Indian tribe (76 FR 39007, July 5, 2011). The interim 
final rule also contained a request for comments, and for good cause 
made the interim final rule effective upon publication in the Federal 
Register. This good-cause finding was based on the uncertainty caused 
by the July 2010 GAO NAGPRA report and the need to ensure compliance 
with the requirements of the Act. Since then, the Department has been 
using only the statutory definition of Indian tribe to implement the 
    We received one written comment during the 60-day comment period 
from one member of the public. The commenter supported the removal of 
the definition of Indian tribe.

[[Page 33483]]


Therefore, the interim rule published July 5, 2011, at 76 FR 39007, is 
confirmed as final without change.

    Dated: May 27, 2014.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2014-13622 Filed 6-10-14; 8:45 am]