The Native American Repatriation Review Committee was established in 1990 under the National Museum of the American Indian Act (Public Laws 101-185 and 104-278). The Committee consists of seven members appointed from nominations submitted by federally-recognized Native American tribes, and Native American, anthropological, and museum organizations. Two Review Committee members are required by law to be traditional Indian religious leaders. The Committee was established to monitor and review the inventory, identification, and return of human remains and funerary objects. The Committee's responsibilities were later expanded to include sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. The duties of the Committee are advisory. Specifically, the Committee's purpose is to ensure that fair and objective consideration and assessment of all relevant evidence with respect to inventory and identification has been made by the Smithsonian Institution. Upon the request of any affected party, the Committee may review any findings relating to the origin or the return of human remains and cultural objects. The Committee may also assist the Secretary of the Smithsonian in facilitating the resolution of any dispute that may arise with respect to the return of such remains or objects. Thus, if any Native American group or Native Hawaiian organization finds that a decision of the Smithsonian regarding a specific request is unacceptable, the group or organization may request that the Committee review the matter and make an independent recommendation to the Secretary of the Smithsonian.
The Review Committee meets at least twice annually to monitor and review the progress of the repatriation process at the Smithsonian. It may meet on other occasions to consider specific issues.
The current members of the Review Committee are: Gordon Yellowman, Sr. (Chair), Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes; Bonnie Newsom (Vice-Chair), Penobscot Indian Nation, Eddington, Maine; Shelby Tisdale,
Vice President of Curatorial and Exhibitions, Autry Museum, Los Angeles, California;
Walter Lara, Sr., Yurok Tribe, California; Timothy Perttula, Archaeologist, Austin, Texas; Ian Thompson, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; and Jane Buikstra, Professor, Arizona State University.
Past members of the Review Committee include: Roger Anyon (1990-2004), Anthropologist, Tucson, Arizona; Richard Dalton, Sr. (1997-2003), Native Village of Hoonah, Alaska;
T. J. Ferguson (2005-2012), Anthropologist, Tuscon Arizona;
Lynne Goldstein (1990-2004), Professor, Michigan State University; Andrea Hunter (1990-2010), Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Osage Nation, Pawhuska, Oklahoma;
John Johnson (2004-2012), Chugach Alaska Corporation, Alaska;
Ronald "Sammy" Little Owl (1997-2000), Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, North Dakota; O. Roland McCook, Sr. (2003-2011), Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation; Russell Thornton (1990-2001), Professor, UCLA; Christy Turner, II (1990-1998); and Phillip Walker, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara (2003-2009).