News Release

University of Minnesota to repatriate Mimbres objects to descendant tribes

The seal of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents appears carved in off-white stone

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents today authorized the repatriation of objects from a collection of Mimbres-affiliated cultural artifacts, a significant step forward in an effort to honor the University’s ethical, moral and legal obligations. Though the recommendation for repatriation came forward based on a variety of considerations, including ethical and policy considerations, these actions will also support compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

“Today’s repatriation determination is another milestone for our institution and our Tribal partners,” Board Chair Ken Powell said after the resolution was approved. “This is an opportunity to reaffirm the mission of the University of Minnesota. While the law maps out the decisions to be made, it is the moral and ethical calling of our land grant university that inspires and guides us, demanding that we act justly by repatriating that which was never ours. We cannot undo our past. We can accept responsibility for it. That means more than  acknowledgements and apologies. Today, the University is exhibiting the values of what it  means to be a land grant institution by authorizing the repatriation of the Mimbres objects to their rightful home with their Native peoples.”

Read the full text of Chair Powell’s statement from Friday’s meeting here.

The Board’s action authorizes University leadership to advance the ongoing consultation with the appropriate Tribal Nations of the Southwest and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) regarding repatriation. The University is committed to working to complete these necessary conversations with care and coordinate next steps with the Tribal Nations involved. Ultimately, the University will return the Mimbres objects it holds, consistent with the many Tribal consultations that have taken place, research into the ancestral lineage of the objects and any additional obligations the University may have under NAGPRA.

The remains of Mimbres ancestors associated with the objects previously held at the Weisman Art Museum currently reside at Hamline University’s Osteology Repository under an agreement with MIAC. The University intends to coordinate with MIAC on a process to repatriate these remains.

Additional background on the Mimbres objects and the repatriation process can be found in this frequently asked questions document.

The Board also: 

  • Approved amendments to Board of Regents Policy: Namings, the final step in a policy review process led by President Joan Gabel.
  • Discussed the proposed Future of Advanced Agricultural Research in Minnesota (FAARM) project, a first-of-its-kind integrated agriculture and food systems research and innovation complex that is part of the University's $935.6 million 2022 state legislative request.
  • Discussed the report and recommendations of the M Safe Implementation Team, which was formed following the report of Dr. Cedric Alexander. Alexander’s report focused on interactions between the Twin Cities campus community and the University of Minnesota Police Department.
  • Discussed alignment with MPact 2025 objectives at the collegiate strategic planning level.
  • Discussed ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the University’s budget and operations.
  • Continued a series of discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion work on each of the University’s five campuses, with the Rochester campus presenting its approach today.
  • Reviewed proposed updates for Board of Regents Policy: Property and Facility Use to further codify why and how the University sells, purchases or transfers real estate.
  • Approved the issuance of a century bond, an additional tool for the University to pursue capital investment needs and strategic goals in support of its mission.
  • Discussed mission-aligned opportunities for corporate engagement as part of the Twin Cities’ Innovation Corridor, as well as through existing University resources such as the University’s Corporate Engagement Center and the Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative (SPARC).
  • Approved the University’s annual performance and accountability report following the Board’s review of the draft report in December.
  • Received an update about the ongoing work on the East Gateway project.
  • Approved employment agreements for Gopher Athletics Director Mark Coyle and College of Continuing and Professional Studies Dean Bob Stine.

The Board of Regents is scheduled to meet next on Mar. 10-11, 2022. Visit for more information.

Media Contacts

Jake Ricker

University Public Relations