Briggs joins NAGPRA team

Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum


Southern Ute tribal member Garrett W. Briggs stepped into the position of NAGPRA Apprentice for the Southern Ute Cultural Department in May of this year.

“My apprenticeship involves the use of cultural preservation resource laws, such as the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, to repatriate our ancestors remains from institutions that receive federal funding and assist in laying them to rest in a respectful and culturally appropriate manner,” Briggs said. “Which align with our traditional values.”

He will be working alongside of NAGPRA Coordinator Cassandra Naranjo.

One of the key roles that Briggs will be taking on is that of the male counterpart, culturally there are many things that a woman cannot be directly involved with during the reinterment process.

“I think it’s important that he balances it out – it’s not just all man, or all woman,” Cassandra Naranjo said.

“The reason we have a male counterpart to the female, is because a female has certain responsibilities and they can’t be involved with remains, or the reinterment … if we hear there is a sacred bundle, a woman can not touch that,” Southern Ute elder Alden Naranjo said. “The female also has certain responsibilities, roles, which a man can not do.”

Briggs has a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M. and a Masters of Arts in Archaeology from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz.

“I will be involved in projects that strive to retrieve sacred objects from federally funded institutions and return them to our tribe, as well as work with federal agencies to protect our sacred landscapes, ancestral sites and natural resources that are vital to our lifeways,” Briggs said.

“I am excited to be working with such high caliber and dedicated people in the cultural department, as well as serving my community,” Briggs said.

Southern Ute elder, Alden Naranjo will continue to serve as a mentor in his retirement, bringing cultural and institutional knowledge to the NAGPRA program.

“Alden has established a great rapport with government agencies and the educational institutions,” Briggs said. “He is a great mentor and asset to have in the NAGPRA program.”

NAGPRA came to pass as a Federal law in 1990 under the Bush Administration.

“Above it all, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act is a human rights legislation,” Briggs said. “The Act allows Federally recognized Indian Tribes to pursue the repatriation of our ancestors and sacred objects to their descendants from museum shelves and personal collections to their descendants so that they can be treated with the respect and the dignity they deserve.”


Garrett Briggs is the grandson of Anthony Cloud Burch and Ida Grant, and the son of Edgar Wayne Briggs and Revae Burch Briggs.




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