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Chico State

CSU Appoints Collections Manager to Support Preservation of Native American Peoples’ Heritage, Artifacts, and Tribal Culture

Native American Artifacts in a glass case honor the Mechoopda Indian Tribe
Jason Halley / University Photographer

California State University, the nation’s largest four-year public university, has named Adriane Tafoya as its new project manager for the California Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA). In this role, she will work with culturally affiliated tribes throughout the state to identify and repatriate the remains of their ancestors and other cultural items.

Tafoya will assist all 23 campuses within the CSU system in complying with CalNAGPRA and with the requirements of Assembly Bill 275, especially in regard to producing new inventories of all of the Native American collections held by each campus.

Adriane Tafoya

CalNAGPRA, which was passed in 2001, requires all agencies and museums that receive state funding and have possession or control over collections of California Native American human remains, cultural items, and funerary objects to inventory those remains and objects for repatriation to the appropriate California Indian Tribe. AB 275, a bill passed in 2020, further defined and clarified the repatriation process and also required state agencies to designate a liaison to engage and consult with California Native American tribes

Tafoya will work out of the Chico State Office of Tribal Relations and report to University President Gayle Hutchinson, who serves as the CSU’s Presidential Advisor for its Native American Initiative.

Tafoya is currently the senior collections manager at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and serves on UT’s NAGPRA Committee. She is a California native and member of the Tejon Indian Tribe (Kitanemuk). Her experience includes NAGPRA duties in California and Tennessee. She has been working in the museum collections field for more than 20 years and has held collections manager positions in art and history museums, university museums, and private collections.

“The CSU has thousands of collections to inventory. Adriane’s strong experience in project management and museum studies education, and her passion for the important work of CalNAGPRA make her a great fit to take on this work,” said Rachel McBride-Praetorius, the director of Tribal Relations at Chico State. 

Tafoya earned a Bachelor of Arts in art from Chico State and a Master of Arts in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University. She is currently working with students to finish museum curation projects at the University of Tennessee and will start with the CSU system on June 1.