University President

Update on NAGPRA and Land Acknowledgement

November 1, 2023

(Emailed on November 1, 2023)

Dear Campus Community,

During the summer, the State Auditor’s Office released a report of their findings from an audit of the California State University’s adherence to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the California-NAGPRA regulations.

While California State University, Monterey Bay was not one of the campuses selected for an in-depth review, we were mentioned in the report and additionally in legislative hearings in August.

I want to reiterate for our university community that CSUMB is dedicated to honoring the heritage of the Native Americans who inhabited the land where we reside and those living today who are part of sovereign Native American tribal communities. We take the recent findings very seriously and have made strong strides over the last six months to complete the complex process of categorizing and repatriation of remains and cultural items to the appropriate tribe.

At CSUMB, our goal is to be in compliance with federal and state regulations around NAGPRA and CAL-NAGPRA by the end of the fall semester. We have hired a new curator, Jordan Leininger, and two assistants to ensure that we complete this work and have added funds to provide the resources needed. We are nearly complete with the work of classifying the artifacts in our collection.

In addition, we have created a university committee that will provide guidance as we move forward and will begin meeting in November. Dr. Nizhoni Chow-Garcia (Diné) will be our liaison with neighboring tribes, and we are in the process of creating a council of tribes to guide us through the process. We also continue to work closely with the Chancellor’s Office to ensure compliance with any systemwide processes that are created and will adhere to any state legislation that is enacted to guide us.

In addition to this work, we will be going through a process to refine and revise our Land Acknowledgment, working with local tribes. We are undertaking this work after we were alerted that our description of tribes in our region may not be accurate. We will work closely with regional tribes to ensure that our Land Acknowledgement is inclusive and accurate as to all the Native American groups with origins in our region, and will begin a thoughtful process to re-engage our campus community as we work to revise our statement.

Vanya Quiñones
California State University, Monterey Bay