Policies and Procedures

The Laboratory of Archaeology at UBC



The draft Policies and Procedures are under review by the UBC Laboratory of Archaeology (LOA) and the Office of the University Counsel.  We would be happy to consider any comments or suggestions about this document. Please contact us.

Draft, February 2014


1. Introduction

The Laboratory of Archaeology (LOA) is committed to the scholarly study of the material evidence of past cultures. The study of these materials is an essential part of the LOA’s responsibility to further knowledge of the past. LOA recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples and is committed to dealing sensitively and responsibly with indigenous peoples regarding the care and disposition of these materials.


This document describes the LOA’s policies and procedures for the handling of cultural materials and ancestral remains in its care at all stages of collection, curation, research, reporting of results, access, and repatriation.


The objectives of this document are to:

(1) Facilitate cooperative relationships between the LOA and interested parties including indigenous peoples by describing the operating procedures of LOA, and


(2) Describe LOA’s procedures for responding to requests for information regarding, access to, and repatriation of cultural materials and ancestral remains under the care of LOA.


2. Definitions of terms used in LOA Policies and Procedures


2.1 Ancestral remains: means human bones, teeth or other biological materials.


2.2 Archaeology Branch: means the Archaeology Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Government of British Columbia.


2.3 Cultural Heritage Permit: means a permit issued by an indigenous people for archaeological work on reserve lands and traditional territory.


2.4 Curate: means the long-term management and preservation of archaeological materials and their related documentation.

2.5 HCA Permit: means a permit granted by the Minister pursuant to the Heritage Conservation Act, RSBC 1996, Chapter 187, as the same may be amended from time to time.


2.6 Indigenous people(s): Used as an inclusive term; implies any indigenous association (Band, Tribal council or other organization) representing communities.


2.7 LOA: means the Laboratory of Archaeology, University of British Columbia.


2.8 MOA: means the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia.


2.9 Overlapping indigenous people(s): means indigenous people(s) having an interest in cultural materials, ancestral remains, information and/or documentation that overlaps with a request for information or material made by another indigenous people.


2.10 Requesting indigenous people: means indigenous people requesting information about, access to, or repatriation of cultural material and/or ancestral remains from LOA.


2.11 UBC: means the University of British Columbia, a British Columbia university continued under the University Act, RSBC 1996, Chapter 468, as the same may be amended from time to time.


3. Laboratory of Archaeology


3.1 Administration 

The LOA is a teaching and research unit within UBC’s Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts.  A committee of archaeology faculty members in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies (the “LOA Committee“) and the LOA Manager oversee the day-to-day operations of the LOA and administers the collections of the LOA.


The LOA Director is appointed on an annual basis by archaeology faculty members in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies and is responsible for overseeing the general operation of the LOA.  The LOA Director reports to the Head of the Department of Anthropology and the LOA Manager reports to the LOA Director.


3.2 LOA Facilities 

LOA facilities are located at UBC in the Anthropology and Sociology building (ANSO, 6303 N.W. Marine Drive, Vancouver V6T 1Z1) and in theMuseum of Anthropology (MOA, 6393 N. W. Marine Drive, Vancouver, V6T 1Z2). Because LOA is a unit of the Department of Anthropology which is distinct from MOA, the archaeological collections in the LOA are not part of the MOA collections.

Archaeological materials curated in the Laboratory are located in LOA’s facilities at both ANSO and MOA. Artifacts are stored in the Archaeology Teaching and ResearchLaboratories located in the MOA building; the supporting documentation collection is located in theArchaeology Documentation & Reading Room in the MOA building. Human skeletal remains are curated in a separate storage area of the Archaeology Research Laboratory, also in the MOA building.Non-artifactual materials (e.g., soil samples) are stored in the basement of the Anthropology and Sociology building (ANSO). Faculty and staff offices and the photographic documentation collection are in the Anthropology and Sociology (ANSO) building.


4.    Description of Archaeological Materials Curated by LOA

The collections in the LOA are largely the result of research investigations carried out in British Columbia by present and past archaeological faculty members and graduate students. Almost all materials deposited in the LOA repository since 1962 were obtained under provincial archaeological HCA Permits and/or Cultural Heritage Permits.  Some collections were obtained before the existence of the British Columbia permit system (i.i.1961).

The LOA may agree to curate additional or materials under the following conditions:

(1) the materials are from sites which are best represented in collections currently under the care of the LOA, and are not more fully represented in the collections in other institutions;

(2) there is room to store the additional materials within the LOA facilities;

(3) the interested indigenous peoples have officially expressed a desire to have LOA curate the additional collection, either to the Archaeology Branch or to LOA; and

(4) the materials have been recovered under HCA Permits and/or Cultural Heritage Permits, as applicable.


The LOA will not accept additional collations of ancestral remains unless all of the above conditions have been met, and before granting an HCA Permit, the Archaeology Branch obtained official resolutions (e.g., a Band/Council Resolution or equivalent) from all interested indigenous peoples requesting that the LOA act as the temporary repository for the collection.


5.    Legislation and Policy Governing LOA

All cultural materials and ancestral remains cared for in the LOA will be treated in conformity with all relevant federal and provincial legislation governing such items and any protocols established by LOA with indigenous peoples.

LOA policy adheres to the UBC Research Ethics Policy.


6. Liaison with Indigenous Peoples

As temporary custodians of indigenous peoples’ cultural material and ancestral remains, LOA recognizes its responsibility to develop close working relationships with indigenous peoples, groups and organizations that have a claim to, or interest in, the cultural material and ancestral remains in LOA’s care.

In cases where the LOA is aware that an indigenous people has an interest in a particular collection, and where that interest has been communicated to LOA in writing, LOA will inform the indigenous people of any significant addition or change to the collection.   Indigenous peoples may contact the LOA Director or LOA Manager at any time to express their interest in materials from specific collections or sites.


7. In-Trust Relationships

The LOA recognizes that it is the custodian of archaeological materials, including cultural materials and ancestral remains, for the province and for indigenous peoples.   Archaeological materials are held by LOA in trust until such materials are repatriated and/or legally  transferred.


8. Storage Guidelines 

All materials, regardless of antiquity or geographic origin, are treated with respect and carefully stored in the LOA’s secure facilities.


9. Collection Management

The LOA Committee regularly reviews its collection management procedures and policies.

LOA accepts materials collected under HCA Permits and Cultural Heritage Permits as described in Section 4: Description of Archaeological Materials Curated by LOA.  Archaeological materials that were collected or received by donation prior to the enactment of the Heritage Conservation Act, RSBC 1996, Chapter 187, are subject to the terms of this policy insofar as possible, however, the exact legal status of such materials is not clear.


10. Valuation of Archaeological Material

LOA does not provide valuations of archaeological materials.


11. Exhibition 

The LOA will use best efforts to ensure that ancestral remains and archaeological materials found in association with such ancestral remains are not exhibited in any public venue of the LOA, the Department of Anthropology, or in any exhibition sponsored by LOA, without  permission from all relevant indigenous peoples.


12. Access to Collections

The LOA Manager administers access to the LOA collections of archaeological materials and their related documentation.  Indigenous peoples and researchers, including University students registered in senior undergraduate or graduate courses, may have supervised access to the LOA collections and related documentation.  Members of the general public are not allowed access to the collections or documentation.

Researchers should notify the LOA Manager of their interest in working with specific materials curated by LOA and provide, as precisely as possible, a list of the materials to be viewed/examined, research methods proposed, and the purpose of the research.  Artifact descriptions and photography can be viewed online by the researcher on the Reciprocal Research Network (rrn.community.org) as an aid to preparing the request.  Documentation collections are being accessioned into an online database (www.loa-archives.arts.ubc.ca).  Duplication of materials may be restricted pursuant to the Copyright Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-42, and relevant UBV policies and guidelines.

After applicable permissions have been obtained (as described in Section 13: Analysis), the LOA requires a minimum of one week’s prior notification to arrange an appointment with a knowledgeable individual to assist the researcher with access to archaeological materials, ancestral remains and related documentation curated by the LOA.


13. Analysis

Unless otherwise prohibited by prior agreement, all archaeological  materials and ancestral remains in the LOA collections are potentially available for scientific study.  In all cases where detailed analysis of LOA collections is proposed, LOA will ensure that the interested indigenous peoples are notified in writing and that any restrictions on the research are complied with.

Researchers wishing to study/analyze archaeological materials under the care of LOA must notify, in writing, all respective indigenous peoples of the researcher’s proposed research.  LOA will provide a letter template and list of interested indigenous peoples that must be contacted. Any procedures or restrictions placed on the proposed research by notified indigenous peoples must be adhered to.

LOA requires copies of all communications between the researcher and notified indigenous peoples before the research may proceed.  LOA will ensure that the materials under study are handles with dignity and respect at all times.

LOA requires that the researchers deposit a digital or print copy of any written report, publication or poster resulting from the study or analysis of archaeological materials and/or ancestral remains in LOA’s collections with LOA and with the interested indigenous peoples.


14. Indigenous Peoples’ Requests for Collections Information 

LOA will respond to all requests for information from indigenous peoples about archaeological materials and ancestral remains in the LOA’s collections.  Requests for information about materials in the LOA collections should be addressed to the LOA Director.

Because the LOA classifies archaeological sites and stores materials by geographic location, LOA requires that requests for information include one of the following:

(1) a topographical map of the indigenous peoples’ traditional territory, showing boundaries and geographic features; or

(2) a complete list of archaeological sites, including the Borden site number, for the area of concern.  Such a list is available from the Archaeology Branch.

The LOA will provide inventories of any catalogued materials from sites in the LOA collection within the requested territory.


The LOA is a repository for archaeological materials collected under HCA Permit and/or Cultural Heritage Permit, and as such it is required to comply with all requirements and conditions imposed under such permits.  Before initiating the formal process of repatriation, the LOA requires an official resolution from the requesting indigenous people (e.g., a Band/Council Resolution or equivalent) requesting the repatriation of specific collections.  Official requests for repatriation typically follow after information about the LOA’s collections has been shared with the requesting indigenous people.  For further information regarding the repatriation process, please refer to Section 15: Requests for Repatriation.


15. Requests for Repatriation


The LOA wil respond to all requests from indigenous peoples for repatriation of archaeological materials and/or ancestral remains in the LOA collections.  Each request will be reviewed by the LOA Committee and dealt with by the LOA in an open and constructive manner, on a case-by-case basis.  The LOA welcomes inquiries from indigenous peoples with respect to the repatriation process and timing.

The following procedures outline the transfer process. The requesting group should:


15.1 Process for Repatriation of Archaeological Collections

The repatriation process can be long and complicated as complex issues often arise.  For this reason, all requests for repatriation of cultural materials and ancestral remains must be considered on their own merits.  Typical steps in the repatriation process for indigenous peoples in British Columbia are provided below.  Because each repatriation request is unique, the order and number of steps may vary.  The LOA works with indigenous peoples other parts of the world in a similar  manner, however, additional requirements or steps may apply.


Initial Communication 

(1) Initial communication may come from an indigenous people to LOA or from LOA to indigenous peoples.  Indigenous peoples requesting repatriation  should clearly identify the indigenous peoples and/or individuals making the claim and state the reasons for the request.

(2) Indigenous peoples must provide a map of their territory or site numbers and names within the territory.

(3) LOA prepares a complete inventory of all catalogued materials for the areas/sites identified by the requesting indigenous people.  The inventory may include ancestral remains and associated materials, artifacts (including from non-burial contexts), documentation, and soil or other materials.


The Beginning of the Work 

(4) Indigenous peoples are encouraged to visit the LOA to view the cultural materials and ancestral remains in the collections covered under their repatriation request. To schedule a visit, requesting indigenous peoples make an appointment with the LOA Manager.  There is no limit on the number of visits.

(5) LOA will endeavour to follow protocol instructions shared by the requesting indigenous people for the care of any ancestral remains covered by the repatriation request while such ancestral remains are in LOA’s care.

(6) LOA will work with the requesting indigenous people to determine potential overlapping indigenous peoples (as defined in Section 2.9).

(7) LOA will contact the Office of the University Counsel at UBC and the Archaeology Branch (when cultural materials and ancestral remains were collected under an HCA Permit) to advise that a repatriation request has been received.


Beginning of the Legal Process 

(8) If the requesting indigenous  people decide to proceed with their repatriation request, they must provide LOA with an official resolution from the requesting indigenous people (e.g., a Band/Council Resolution) listing all cultural materials and ancestral remains to be repatriated (using the LOA identification numbers contained in the inventories provided by LOA).

If a repatriation committee or similar group is acting on behalf of an indigenous people, a letter listing all materials and an official resolution from the requesting indigenous people (e.g., a Band/Council Resolution) authorizing the committee’s work is required.

(9) The LOA Committee meets to discuss the repatriation request.  LOA works on a presumption of favourable disposition towards such requests.  LOA’s decision is communicated to the requesting indigenous people.  If LOA has any concerns, these will also be communicated to the requesting indigenous people.

(10) Where overlapping indigenous peoples have been identified,

(a) the requesting indigenous people must send a copy of a “Letter of Intention to Repatriate” to each identified overlapping indigenous people with a request that they respond to both the requesting indigenous people and the LOA by a specified date; and

(b) the LOA Director will send a separate communication to each overlapping indigenous people advising of the “Letter of Intention to Repatriate” package they will receive from the requesting indigenous people and requesting that the overlapping indigenous peoples respond

to the LOA Director with their comments by the specified date.

(11) In the event of conflicting claims between the requesting indigenous people and the overlapping indigenous peoples, the LOA will inform the parties that a conflict exists and will defer its decision about repatriation until after the conflict has been resolved.  In the case of materials that are claimed by two or more indigenous peoples, the LOA will require a release from all such indigenous peoples before the materials can be repatriated to a particular indigenous people.

(12) The requesting indigenous people and LOA will finalize the list of cultural materials and ancestral remains for repatriation after the closing date for responses to the “Letter of Intention to Repatriate”.

(13) The requesting indigenous people will post a public notice (for example, in a local newspaper) notifying neighbouring groups of their intention to repatriate.  Such notice must contain the names/Borden numbers of the sites.

(14) The LOA will prepare a “Transfer Agreement” and send it to the Office of the University Counsel for review.

(15) The Office of the University Counsel will review and finalize the Transfer Agreement and provide two originals signed by UBC’s authorized signatories to the LOA.

(16) The LOA will send the two signed original Transfer Agreements to the requesting indigenous people for signature by the Chief or designated band/council members.  If these individuals will travel to LOA for the repatriation, the Transfer Agreement may be signed on the day of the repatriation.

(17) The LOA and the requesting indigenous people will work out the details of the repatriation ceremony.  If the indigenous people desire press coverage, LOA will contact UBC Public Affairs to assist with press releases.

(18) On the day of the repatriation, one signed original of the Transfer Agreement is given to the requesting indigenous people and one original is retained by UBC.

(19) The LOA makes a copy of the signed Transfer Agreement for LOA’s files and delivers the signed original to the Office of the University Counsel within two business days.

(20) The LOA will forward all the information about the finalized repatriation request to the Archaeology Branch.