AAA Commission on the Ethical Treatment of Human Remains Issues Final Report

In establishing the Commission for the Ethical Treatment of Human Remains, the AAA responded to an urgent call across the field of anthropology for institutional and professional accountability related to Ancestral remains in education and research collections, with special attention to standards and guidelines concerning the respectful care for all Ancestral remains and funerary objects and belongings. This specifically includes, but is not limited to, African Americans and Native Americans who are housed in research collections at museums and academic institutions

The Commission’s mission was to draft an AAA policy to guide anthropologists, museums, and other institutions in how to ethically and respectfully care for and attend to human remains, burial places and belongings from burials by engaging with both researchers and lineal descendants, Ancestral communities, descendant communities, and communities of care.

The Final Report details the work of the Commission from May 2022 to May 2024. This work included an extensive review and analysis of current ethics policies, an interdisciplinary literature review, consultation with biological anthropologists, geneticists, and bioarchaeologists, and listening sessions with descendant communities nationally and internationally.