Dr C. Timothy McKeown

PhD (Northwestern University, USA); MA (Northwestern University, USA); BA (University of South Florida, USA)
Adjunct Research Fellow, Centre of Heritage and Museum Studies College Arts & Social Sciences
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

Tim's primary area of research focuses on the development and implementation of repatriation policy. He is particularly interested in the ongoing implementation of the repatriation provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Tim provides technical assistance to indigenous communities in developing systematic protocols for identifying, requesting, and repatriating the remains of their ancestors and ceremonial objects currently in the collections of museums around the world. He also provides technical assistance to museums in developing fair, transparent, and effective mechanisms for repatriating human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and communally owned objects to Indigenous communities.


Tim is a legal anthropologist whose career has focused exclusively on the development and use of explicit ethnographic methodologies to document the cultural knowledge of communities and use that knowledge to enhance policy development and implementation. He has been intimately involved in the documentation and application of indigenous knowledge to the development of U.S. repatriation policy since 1991. For 18 years, he served as a Federal official responsible for drafting regulations implementing Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), developing databases to document compliance, establishing a grants program, investigating allegations of failure to comply for possible civil penalties, coordinating the activities of a Secretarial advisory committee, and providing training and technical assistance to nearly 1000 museums and Federal agencies and 700 indigenous communities across the U.S. The results of his regulatory drafting have withstood broad public review by all constituencies as well as direct challenges in Federal District and Appellate Courts. He advised or served as part of U.S. delegations negotiating repatriation provisions before the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), Organization of American States, and United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Since 2009, Tim has consulted on repatriation of cultural items with several Indian tribes, prepared policy recommendations and provided training at annual meetings of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and served as an expert witness for tribal Plaintiffs in a case before a US Federal District Court. In 2020, he was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to a four year term on the U.S. government’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee. He also provided pro bono advice on U.S. repatriation practices to the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC. The University of Arizona Press published his comprehensive review of the legislative history of U.S. Federal repatriation mandates. Tim also served two years as the appointed foreperson of a Federal grand jury investigating white collar crimes, government corruption, and crimes against U.S. citizens overseas, and six years as the elected union president representing the interests of 700 employees of the headquarters office of the U.S. National Park Service.

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  23 January 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers