1990 Arizona Repatriation Legislation

Paul Bender

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 24, p. 391, 1992

Arizona recently enacted two important pieces of legislation establishing broad repatriation rights for sensitive American Indian material. Section 844 of Arizona Revised Statutes, requires the state to repatriate human remains, funerary objects, sacred ceremonial materials, and items of tribal patrimony if these materials are either excavated on state land or in the control of state agencies. Section 865 of Arizona Revised Statutes, provides a right of repatriation if human remains or funerary objects are discovered on privately owned land. Both statutes confer repatriation rights on the governments of Indian tribes that have cultural or religious affinity to the materials whose repatriation is sought. The term affinity is generously defined in both laws. This article discusses the Arizona repatriation legislation in detail.

Three main themes underlie both new pieces of Arizona legislation. The first is a recognition of the enormous value of cooperative discussion among all interested parties when a controversy arises over the treatment or disposition of sensitive Indian materials. The second pervasive underlying theme is that when cooperative discussions do not resolve repatriation issues, concern for human rights should receive primary weight in decisions about the disposition and treatment of culturally sensitive materials. Finally, the legislation rests on the related assumptions that American Indian tribal governments are ordinarily the proper representatives of Indian interests in repatriation controversies, and that such governments, once empowered to protect their tribal beliefs and heritage, will sensitively and responsibly limit their repatriation claims to materials that are truly central to those beliefs and heritage.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: Indian law, religion, repatriation act

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Date posted: June 24, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Bender, Paul, 1990 Arizona Repatriation Legislation (1992). Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 24, p. 391, 1992. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1425200

Contact Information

Paul Bender (Contact Author)
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
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