KU News: KU hires former tribal historic preservation officer Thomas Torma as repatriation program manager

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Contact: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, KU News Service, 785-864-8858, [email protected], @ebpkansas
KU hires former tribal historic preservation officer Thomas Torma as repatriation program manager

LAWRENCE — Thomas Torma, an administrator well-versed in the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), is joining the University of Kansas as its repatriation program manager March 6.
In the role, Torma will coordinate NAGPRA compliance, consultations, repatriations and other activities by managing inventory and curation of Native American and Indigenous artifacts and remains across the university.
“KU clearly understands the importance of developing meaningful relationships with tribes and tribal communities,” Torma said. “The opportunity to be part of a NAGPRA program that operates in that spirit is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that I am looking forward to engaging with.”
Hiring a repatriation program manager is among the steps the university announced in December 2022 with its initiatives to complete necessary steps to repatriate Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony that are in the institution’s possession, as mandated by federal law.
Torma will continue the work first undertaken by Melissa Peterson, director of tribal relations, before a repatriation program manager was in place.
“I am pleased with the care that Tom will bring to this work at KU,” Peterson said. “It is very important for me to ensure that our repatriation program manager had the Indigenous knowledge in addition to the NAGPRA knowledge in repatriation. He possesses a very unique skill set, and I am ready for him to lead the work we started.”
Torma comes to KU from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was that institution’s NAGPRA liaison since 2020. During his time there, he oversaw the publication of 15 NAGPRA Federal Register notices and the repatriation of over 930 ancestors. Also among his professional experiences is having served as the cultural director and tribal historic preservation officer for the Wiyot Tribe in Loleta, California.
As a scholar and academic, Torma has taught and researched with institutions across the United States and United Kingdom. Torma earned a bachelor of science in English and philosophy from State University of New York-Brockport, followed by a master of science and doctorate in Celtic studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
More information on repatriation and NAGPRA at KU can be found at https://repatriation.ku.edu/.


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Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

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