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We agree that African American skeletal remains must be treated with dignity and diligence (see J. Dunnavant et al. Nature593, 337–340; 2021). But we caution against any stifling of high-quality, ethical, quantitative genomic inquiry that might be imposed by an African American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (AAGPRA). Restrictions must not compound existing disadvantages in health and education. DNA studies can support oral histories; they can provide the strongest objective case for reparations for past offences of enslavement and institutionalized racism; and they can increase opportunities for precision medicine.