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Ellen M. Lofaro

Director of Repatriation

Ellen Lofaro photoAs the Director of Repatriation for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Dr. Lofaro manages and coordinates national and international repatriation efforts. With a focus on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), she actively consults, collaborates and partners with Native American Tribes to repatriate all Native American ancestral remains and cultural items. Dr. Lofaro is also involved in the ongoing development of university policies and procedures regarding repatriation, research, and collections care, and is working to integrate collaborative community research and traditional care requests into university standards.


  • Ph.D. 2016, Anthropology, University of Florida
  • M.A. 2011, Anthropology, University of Florida
  • B.A. 2009, Anthropology (French minor), Vanderbilt University

Selected Recent Professional Activities

International Repatriation Efforts

Grants & Contracts

  • 2019.  P.I. National Institute of Justice – Tribal-Researcher Capacity Building Grant. Co-PIs – Dr. Bruce Anderson and Megan Kleeschulte, MA (doctoral student).  “Implementing NAGPRA: Connecting Medical Examiner and Coroner Offices to Tribal Partners.”  (Active 2020-2022).
  • 2019. P.I.  National Park Service Collaborative Agreement – Cultural Resource Management Services. (Active 2020-2024).
  • 2019. P.I National Park Service NERI – Archaeological Curation of New River Gorge Collections project. (Active 2019-2020).
  • 2018, 2020-2021. P.I. Tennessee Valley Authority – NAGPRA Inventory Verification contracts. (Active 2019-2022).
  • 2018. Buffalo Bill Center of the West Resident Fellowship, Cody, Wyoming
  • 2018. Mary Miller Scholarship, Jekyll Island Museum Institute
  • 2016. Getty Research Institute Library Research grant, Los Angeles, CA

Selected Presentations

  • 2021. Moving Forward with NAGPRA:  Repatriation and Building Relationships through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Virtual panel presented at the Southeastern Museum Conference, Chattanooga, TN. Panel Organizer and Presenter, with RaeLynn Butler, Deanna Byrd, Celise Chilcote-Fricker, and Megan Cook. Oct. 25-27.
  • 2020. A New Path Forward: Guiding Repatriation in Medical Examiner and Coroner Offices. Virtual panel hosted by the Association on American Indian Affairs, with Megan Kleeschulte, Reylynne Williams, Shane Anton, Bruce Anderson, and Elizabeth Ronald. Sept. 24.
  • 2019. Building a NAGPRA Community of Practice. Panel presentation at the Association on American Indian Affairs’ Fifth Annual Repatriation Conference “Healing the Divide,” in Fort McDowell, AZ, with Anne Amati, Angela Garcia-Lewis, and Lydia Dean-Sutton. Nov. 12-14.
  • 2019. Building Relationships through NAGPRA. Panel presentation at the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries Annual Conference, “Learning Laboratory and Community Center: Positioning the Academic Museum for Success” in Minneapolis, MN, with Anne Amati and Lourdes Henebry-DeLeon. June 27-30.
  • 2018. At the Intersection of Science and Sacredness: The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Panel presentation at the Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights Conference “Transitions: Crisis, Uncertainty, Opportunity.” Panel Organizer and Presenter, with Tom Belt, Pete Coffey, Leo Lockwood, Emman Spain, Tim Baumann, and Holly Cusack-McVeigh. Feb. 9-11.

Professional Service

  • NAGPRA Community of Practice (National) – Steering committee member. (2020-present).
  • Southeastern NAGPRA Community of Practice – Founding member. (2020-present).
  • Society for American Archaeology – Repatriation committee member. (2019-present).
  • American Association of Biological Anthropology – Committee for Community Partnership (formerly the Repatriation committee) member. (2019-present).


  • 2019 Lofaro, E.M., Kurin, D.S., Gómez Choque, D.E., & Krigbaum, J. Reconstructing diet and mobility using multi-isotopic analysis in Apurimac, Peru (~ AD 880–1260). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11:1089–1105.
  • 2016 Kurin, D.S., Lofaro, E.M., Gómez Choque, D.E., & Krigbaum, J. A Bioarchaeological and Biogeochemical Study of Warfare and Mobility in Andahuaylas, Peru (ca. AD 1150—1250). International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26: 93-103.


Repatriation, NAGPRA, collaborative community research, cultural heritage, museum curation, traditional collections care, bioarchaeology, isotope geochemistry, Southeastern U.S., Andes