Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis Calls on CSU Board of Trustees to Discuss Audit Findings on Repatriation of Native American Remains and Cultural Items to California Tribes


Monday, October 9, 2023 (916) 445-8994


SACRAMENTO – In honor of Indigenous People’s Day, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis delivered a letter to the Chair of the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees calling for the findings from a recent California State Auditor’s report to be presented as an informational agenda item at the CSU Board of Trustees November meeting.  

The report details the CSU’s failure to comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and California’s version, CalNAGPRA. In the three decades since the passage of NAGPRA and two decades since the passage of CalNAGPRA, CSU campuses are estimated to have only returned 6% of the nearly 700,000 remains and cultural items subject to NAGPRA and CalNAGPRA.  

The Lieutenant Governor urged that the audit findings be agendized for discussion in order to allow the Board of Trustees to provide oversight and ensure the respectful and timely repatriation of native remains and culturally significant artifacts.   


WHAT LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KOUNALAKIS SAID: “Undoubtedly, the CSU has fallen short, not only in its failure to comply with NAGPRA and CalNAGPRA but also in its system-level oversight of this process. As the body charged with oversight of the CSU system, the CSU Board of Trustees must be engaged. I respectfully ask that the findings of this audit and the CSU’s response be added to the agenda as an informational discussion item at the November CSU Board of Trustees meeting. The Board of Trustees must be a partner in ensuring that all remains, and cultural items are returned pursuant to NAGPRA and CalNAGPRA as expeditiously as possible. With a change in leadership in the Chancellor’s office, it is more imperative than ever that the board is engaged and able to guide and support the Chancellor’s office efforts in implementing the report’s recommendations.”