Dr C. Timothy McKeown

Adjunct Fellow

PhD (Northwestern University, USA)
MA (Northwestern University, USA)
BA (University of South Florida, USA)

T 0011 1 202 253 0080

E smallerscope@msn.com


Dr C. Timothy McKeown joined NCIS as an Adjunct Fellow for three years, from June 2013. Tim will be working with Associate Professor Cressida Fforde and Adjunct Associate Professor Mike Pickering on the ARC Linkage project 'Return, Reconcile, Renew: understanding the history, effects and opportunities of repatriation and building an evidence base for the future' which commenced in mid-2013.

In 2014, Tim was awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. Tim spent November 2014 in Australia working with NCIS and other partner organisations as part of the 'Return, Reconcile, Renew' research project. During his time at NCIS, Tim provided specialist input into the development of the first of what will be annual five-day intensive training modules on repatriation, and also presented lectures, master classes and seminars.


Dr C. Timothy McKeown 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. He also provided pro bono advice on U.S. repatriation practices to the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC. The University of Arizona Press recently 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.

Scholarly 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 US museums and Federal agencies. He also provides technical assistance to museums in developing fair, transparent, and effective mechanisms for repatriating Native American human remains and ceremonial objects to Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations in the US.

Recent publications & submissions

  • CT McKeown, E Palus, J Riordan & R Waldbauer (forthcoming) "Federal Agency Perspective," in: Implementing NAGPRA: Intent, Impact, and Future of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Chari & Lavallee, eds), Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.
  • CT McKeown (forthcoming). "'The Secretary Shall' – Actual and Apparent Delegation of NAGPRA's Implementation Responsibilities," in: Implementing NAGPRA: Intent, Impact, and Future of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Chari & Lavallee, eds), Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.
  • CT McKeown (forthcoming) "NAGPRA in Hawaii: Simple Law/Complicated Reality," in: Waters of Wrath: A Century of Struggle for the Kawaihae Iwi and Moepu (Kaulukukui, ed), Honolulu: Kamehameha Press.
  • CT McKeown (2012) 'The Small Scope of Conscience – The Struggle for National Repatriation Legislation, 1986-1990', Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.
  • CT McKeown et al. (2010) 'Final Rule, NAGPRA Regulations – Disposition of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains,' 43 CFR 10.11 (Mar 15, 2010).
  • CT McKeown (2010) "'A Willingness to Listen to Each Side' – The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee, 1991-2010," Museum Anthropology, Volume 33, Issue 2, pages 218-233.
  • CT McKeown, J Schansberg & M Murphy (2010) "Ethical and Legal Issues: Complying with NAGPRA," in: Museum Registration Methods (Dudley & Wilkinson, eds), 5th revised edition, Washington: American Association of Museums.
  • CT McKeown (2008) "Repatriation," in: The Handbook of North American Indians, volume 2 (Bailey, ed.), Washington: Smithsonian Press.
  • CT McKeown (2008) "Considering Repatriation Legislation," in: Utimut/Past Heritage: Future Partnerships, Discussions on Repatriation in the 21st Century (Gabriel & Dahl, eds), Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs & the Greenland National Museum & Archives.

View Timothy McKeown's complete list of publications (PDF 41.1KB) »

Updated:  1 May 2015/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer