Intensive NAGPRA Summer Training & Education Program (INSTEP)

This project serves as a training program focused on best practices related to Ancestral human remains under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Training in and around the subject of NAGPRA is notoriously lacking in most academic anthropology programs and even tribal communities, highlighting the need for long-term availability of such training. The one-week, intensive program will also focus on areas of ethical concern surrounding research, teaching, curation, and other aspects of working with tribal nations and their Ancestors. Training areas will include, but are not limited to: strategies for NAGPRA documentation in the laboratory/curation space; understanding cultural affiliation to contemporary tribal communities; cultural sensitivity protocols; working with tribal governments; the effects of anthropological collecting and intergenerational trauma; and collaborative research practices. Training sessions will involve learning from Native and non-Native NAGPRA practitioners, tribal scholars and Elders, research partners, and others as appropriate. The major goal of the project is to develop accessible, consistently-available training for anthropologists and NAGPRA practitioners.

The INSTEP pilot program (which took place July 2023) was funded by a Wenner-Gren Foundation Global Initiatives Grant (Gr. GIG-20). W-G supports broad initiatives to empower anthropologists in their work, and the INSTEP program furthers W-G’s focus on the ethical treatment of human remains. The 2024 program will also be facilitated using funding from the initial pilot year.

The 2024 program is anticipated to run July 8-12. Accepted participants who are tribal citizens will be fully funded for their travel and stay in Champaign-Urbana for the duration of the program. Additional participants will be considered if they are able to fund their own participation.

Contact information:

Jayne-Leigh Thomas, Indiana University,
Krystiana Krupa, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign,
2023 INSTEP participants. Workshop hosted by Indiana University Bloomington.

Eligibility and Criteria

The 2024 INSTEP Program is open to undergraduate and graduate students; university professionals such as postdoctoral researchers, staff, and faculty; Federal and State agency employees; and tribal practitioners and employees. We prioritize applications from Indigenous community members, Elders, and tribal leaders. 

  • Summary of Applicant’s Background. This should include education or experiences that relate to the program. (200-300 words max)
  • Statement of Applicant’s Interest. (500 words max)

Throughout the workshop, participants will submit daily (and final) evaluations of the INSTEP program. These evaluations provide organizers valuable feedback to modify and improve future workshops.

Application Information

Please apply to the 2024 INSTEP Program using this Google form.

Applications will open on October 15, 2023 and will close on February 1, 2024. Participants will receive acceptance decisions on March 1, 2024.