University of Michigan Office of Research
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Definition of Terms for the Searchable Database

Note: All data related to collections and objects on this website is subject to updates and changes.

The searchable database will allow tribal officials to determine where their tribe has standing by state and county and what site collections the University may have from those locations. The database also provides basic information about each site collection. Tribal officials may use this information for reference purposes when contacting the University about specific site collections, or when determining whether they wish to pursue consultation or request disposition of specific site collections in those states and counties where their tribe has standing.

When using the database, please take note of the following terms and headings:

County – This is the name of the state county in which the site collection was discovered. There are also collections listed in this category as “Unknown.” While the counties where these sites were discovered are unknown, it is known that the collections came from somewhere within the state. As such, the University will transfer these collections to any federally recognized tribe(s) with aboriginal land status within the state that file a request for disposition.

Site ID – This is an identification number that the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology has assigned to specific sites and collections sequentially for record-keeping purposes.The number preceding the decimal point indicates the site collection’s state of origin. (Example: “20.XXX” – The “20” indicates the “State of Michigan” which is the 20th state when all of the states are listed alphabetically.)

Site Name – This is the name assigned to an archaeological site. Site names were frequently assigned based on the name of the original landowner, a nearby landmark, the closest city, etc. An asterisk (*) has been placed next to some Site Names indicating that these site collections include components from the post-contact period (ca. 1650 A.D. to Present). The post-contact components from these site collections will be culturally affiliated and repatriated to the appropriate federally recognized tribe(s) in accordance with NAGPRA procedures. Knowing this, please note that the MNI and FO data indicated in this database includes both the culturally affiliated and culturally unidentified components of a site collection, even though they will be treated separately under NAGPRA regulations.

MNI – This means “Minimum Number of Individuals.” It is used as a means of accounting for the human remains in a given site collection and producing an estimate of how many individuals were disinterred. The federal government’s National NAGPRA Office uses this reference as a means of assessing the relative size of site collections. The number appearing is the University’s current best estimate.

FO – This means “Funerary Objects.” Funerary objects, by NAGPRA definition, are objects that “as part of the death rite or ceremony of a culture, are reasonably believed to have been placed intentionally at the time of death or later with or near individual human remains.” A final determination as to whether a particular object is, or should be, considered funerary requires consultation with tribal representatives. Whether a given site collection includes objects U-M believes may be funerary objects such that consultation is required is indicated by the “Yes” or “No” indicator.