KU looks to hire repatriation program manager; new role will oversee return of ancestral remains

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The University of Kansas is seeking to hire a repatriation program manager who will be responsible for overseeing the university’s return of Indigenous ancestral remains and artifacts.

KU is currently working toward returning the remains of 202 Native American ancestors, one South American ancestor and one Aboriginal ancestor in compliance with the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA). The repatriation program manager will oversee and coordinate the process.


The job posting comes following outcry from students when the university learned that it was storing Indigenous ancestors’ remains in Lippincott Hall, the same building that has housed the Indigenous Studies Program.

“This position will advance KU’s Repatriation Program and serve as a liaison between the university, tribal nations, the National NAGPRA program, and other federal, state and/or international agencies,” the job posting states.

55% of the job will focus on NAGPRA compliance and repatriation efforts, such as developing a university NAGPA policy, collaborating with university museum collection managers, keep records of inventory and communication, and more; 25% will consist of capacity building, or managing administrative aspects of the repatriation process; 15% will be establishing and maintaining relationships with tribal communities; and 5% will consist of other miscellaneous duties. 

The job’s annual salary will range between $60,000 and $80,000, according to the job posting.

The job description also states the repatriation program manager will partner with advisory and steering committees. The university’s repatriation and NAGPRA page on the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging website said the university will be creating an “advisory committee with representatives from the Office of Native American Initiatives, Indigenous Studies Program, Native staff and faculty, and appropriate experts.”

Students in the program recently worked to get a resolution in support of Indigenous students, staff and faculty passed through the Student Senate. Those student leaders said they had yet to receive notification about any advisory team and would like KU to communicate better with them.

Applicants for the repatriation program manager position should hold a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, archaeology, museum studies, Native American or Indigenous studies, or in a related discipline from an accredited university; or a high school diploma/GED equivalent with five years of experience or training in “working with American Indian tribes or descent communities, or culturally significant objects,” according to the application.

Applicants should also have three years of experience “identifying, analyzing, organizing and/or managing Native American artifacts, human remains, and associated funerary objects; or working with American Indian tribes to repatriate NAGPRA related or other items of cultural significance, or working with descent communities and caring for culturally significant objects; and/or equivalent training, education or experience with traditional Tribal Elders, Tribal Cultural Departments and Historians, or Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.”

Those interested can learn more about the position and apply at this link. Application review will begin on Monday, Nov. 14, and the job is expected to start on Monday, Dec. 5. Applicants can contact John Curran, vice chancellor and chief risk officer, via email at for more information.

The repatriation program manager will be part of KU’s Audit, Risk and Compliance department.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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