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The Law and American Indian Grave Protection

Minnesota Laws

Onsite text of Indian Burial Ground Identification and Preservation. Offsite text at the Minnesota Archaeology page.

Summaries follow of burial/archaeological laws yielded through a keyword search for "archaeology" and "burial" on 2001 March 30 at the State Historic Preservation Legislation Database found at the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) web site, that database then updated through 1999. These summaries are reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law which may be found at www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html

http://www.ibsgwatch.org is not responsible for any inaccuracies or timeliness of information.


Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 307.08 (1,2)
Section Title: Illegal molestation of human remains: legislative intent; violations

Summary:

Declares that all human burials and human skeletal remains shall be accorded equal treatment and respect for human dignity without reference to their ethnic origins, cultural backgrounds or religious affiliations, and that the provisions of this section shall apply to all such burials and remains found on or in all public or private lands or waters of the state. Declares that a person is guilty of a felony who intentionally, willfully and knowingly destroys, mutilates, injures, disturbs or removes human skeletal remains or human burial grounds. Declares that a person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who intentionally, willfully or knowingly removes any tombstone, monument or structure placed in any public or private cemetery or unmarked human burial ground, or any fence, railing or other work erected for protection or ornament, or any tree, shrub or plant or grave goods and artifacts within the limits of the cemetery or burial ground, or discharges a firearm upon or over the grounds of any public or private cemetery or authenticated and identified Indian burial ground.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Disposition of Human Remains
    • Violation / Penalty / Enforcement

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 307.08 (3-6)
Section Title: Illegal molestation of human remains: authentication, identification and marking of unmarked burial grounds

Summary:

Authorizes the posting of any authenticated and identified burial ground for protective purposes every 75 feet around its perimeter with signs listing prohibited activities and the penalties, to be posted at the discretion of the Indian Affairs Council in the case of Indian burials or at the discretion of the state archeologist in the case of non-Indian burials. Directs the state archeologist to authenticate all burial sites for purposes of this section and authorizes the state archeologist to enter on property for such purposes, with the permission of the property owner or lessee. Authorizes descendants of persons buried in burial sites covered by this section to enter the burial sites for the purpose of conducting religious ceremonies, but directs that such entry shall not unreasonably burden property owners or unnecessarily restrict their use of their property. Directs the state to retain the services of a qualified professional archeologist, approved by the state archeologist and the Indian Affairs Council, to gather information to authenticate or identify Indian burial grounds when requested by a concerned scientific or contemporary Indian ethnic group, when Indian burials are known or suspected to exist on public lands or waters controlled by the state or a political subdivision. Declares that the cost of authentication, identification, marking and rescue of unmarked or unidentified burial grounds or burials shall be the responsibility of the state. Requires data collected by this activity that has common value for natural resource planning must be provided and integrated into the Minnesota land management information system's geographic and summary data bases according to published data compatibility guidelines, with costs of such borne by the state. Requires the size, description and information on any signs posted at cemeteries or burial grounds by the state archeologist or the Indian Affairs Council to be approved by the Minnesota State Historical Society.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Disposition of Human Remains
    • Survey / Inventory of Sites

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 307.08 (7)
Section Title: Illegal molestation of human remains: disposition of unidentified human remains

Summary:

Directs that all unidentified human remains or burials found outside of platted, recorded or identified cemeteries and in contexts which indicate antiquity greater than 50 years shall be dealt with in accordance with provisions established by the state archeologist, if the state archeologist determines that such burials are not Indian or their ethnic identity cannot be ascertained. Directs that efforts shall be made by the state archeologist and the Indian Affairs Council to ascertain the tribal identity of any burial that the state archeologist determines to be Indian, and, if probable tribal identity can be determined, such remains shall, at the discretion of the state archeologist and the council, be turned over to contemporary tribal leaders for disposition. Authorizes the state archeologist or the council to allow such remains to be studied by a qualified professional archeologist before being delivered to the tribal leaders. Directs the state archeologist and the council to establish provisions to deal with the disposition of Indian remains for which tribal identity cannot be determined.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Disposition of Human Remains

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 307.08 (8-10)
Section Title: Illegal molestation of human remains: Indian burials on public lands

Summary:

Prohibits the relocation of an authenticated and identified Indian burial ground unless the request to relocate is approved by the Indian Affairs Intertribal Board. Directs that the cost of removal of an Indian burial ground located on public lands or waters shall be paid by the state or political subdivision controlling the lands or waters. Directs the state to make efforts to purchase and protect large Indian burial grounds instead of removing them to another location. Directs the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and all other state agencies and local governmental units whose activities may be affected to cooperate with the state archeologist and the Indian Affairs Intertribal Board to carry out the provisions of this section. Requires the state or political subdivision controlling the lands or waters on which Indian burials are known to be located to submit construction and development plans to the state archeologist and the Indian Affairs Intertribal Board for review prior to the time bids are advertised. Directs the state archeologist and the board to review the plans promptly and make recommendations for the preservation or removal of human burials or remains that may be endangered by construction or development activities.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Disposition of Human Remains

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 307.082
Section Title: Illegal molestation of human remains: civil actions

Summary:

Allows the attorney general, a state agency or political subdivision, an individual residing within the state or a partnership, corporation, association, company or other entity with shareholders, members, partners or employees residing within the state to maintain a civil action seeking temporary or permanent injunction, damages or other appropriate relief against a person who is alleged to have committed a violation of 307.08 (2) regarding the willful disturbing of a burial ground. Requires that the action be brought within two years after the alleged violation is discovered and reported to the state archeologist or the Indian Affairs Council and must be filed in either the district court of the county in which the subject burial ground is located or in which the defendant resides.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Disposition of Human Remains
    • Violation / Penalty / Enforcement

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 138.31 through 138.33
Section Title: Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963: definitions; legislative intent; unlicensed field archeology prohibited

Summary:

(138.31) Defines a "state site" as a land or water area, owned or leased by or subject to the paramount right of the state, county, township or municipality where there are objects or other evidence of archeological interest, including all aboriginal mounds and earthworks, ancient burial grounds, prehistoric ruins, historical remains and other archeological features on state land or on land subject to the paramount rights of the state. Excludes bottles or ceramics manufactured after 1875 from the definition of historical remains. (138.32) Reserves for the state the exclusive right and privilege of field archeology on state sites to protect and preserve archeological and scientific information, matter and objects. Discourages field archeology on privately owned lands except in accordance with both the provisions and spirit of the Minnesota Field Archeology Act. Encourages persons having knowledge of the location of archeological sites to communicate such information to the state archeologist. (138.33) Prohibits any person, including state or other public employees other than the state archeologist and individuals duly licensed by the director of the Minnesota Historical Society, from engaging in any field archeology on any state site.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Permit / Site Investigation Authority
    • Underwater Archeological Activity

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 138.36
Section Title: Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963: licenses

Summary:

Directs the director of the Minnesota Historical Society and the state archeologist to formulate and issue such provisions for licenses as are required to carry out and enforce the Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963. (2) Authorizes the director of the society, acting as an agent of the state, to issue a license to a qualified person approved by the state archeologist to engage in field archeology on a specified state site. Authorizes the director also to issue a license to a qualified person, either in connection with the right to engage in field archeology on a specified site, or alone, to engage in purely preliminary or exploratory activities in a specified area where a site is thought to exist. Requires the applicant, if a state site or an area to be described in a license is under the jurisdiction of any other state agency or if the archeology so licensed may interfere with a project of any other state agency, to obtain the approval of that agency. Authorizes the attorney general to apply to the district court for injunctive relief to restrain activities that, in the director's opinion, may damage historical or archeological sites on public lands or waters. (3) Authorizes the director of the Minnesota Historical Society or the state archeologist to waive or abridge provisions of the Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963 in an emergency in which objects of interest to the state are found in the course of construction or demolition work, or in other situations in which time is of the essence to save objects or gather data. Authorizes the director or the state archeologist to issue short form emergency licenses to persons not otherwise qualified to enable them to salvage objects or gather data in the time available. (4) Authorizes the director of the Minnesota Historical Society to renew any license for another calendar year. Requires such application for renewal to be made in the form and contain the information required by the state archeologist. (5) Authorizes the director or the state archeologist to revoke or suspend a license because of the improper conduct of the licensee, the use of improper or substandard methods or other good cause.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Permit / Site Investigation Authority

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 138.37
Section Title: Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963: ownership, custody and use of objects and data

Summary:

(1) Reserves for the state the title to all objects found and data gathered in field archeology, except as provided in subsections 2 and 3, although a license may name a custodian other than the state archeologist. Requires that physical possession of objects or data shall revert to the state if the custodian named ceases to exist, or if the state archeologist finds that he custodian is not properly caring for them or keeping them conveniently available for study. (2) Authorizes the director of the Minnesota Historical Society, with the approval of the state archeologist, to permit qualified persons acting for a nonresident agency, school or institution to be licensed to engage in field archeology in the state. Requires the director and the state archeologist, at the time the license is issued, to determine the disposition of objects found. (3) Authorizes the state archeologist, if the best interests of the state are deemed served thereby and with the approval of the director of the Minnesota Historical Society, to barter one or more objects belonging to the state for one or more objects belonging to another state, a private person or any school, scientific institution or other body having title thereto. Authorizes the state archeologist, with the approval of the director, to dispose of one or more objects belonging to the state. Authorizes the state archeologist and the director to accept on behalf of the state any gift or an object, data or any deed to a privately owned site if they deem the gift valuable to the state, or to accept any gift of money to be used for one or more of the purposes covered by the Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Curation / Ownership of Artifacts

Code Book: Minnesota Statutes
Citation: 138.41
Section Title: Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963: penalties

Summary:

(1) Declares a person to be guilty of a gross misdemeanor who willfully violates 138.33, or willfully defaces, injures, destroys, displaces or removes any object or data belonging to the state, or willfully interferes with evidence or work on any state site or other site for which a license has been issued, or willfully violates any other provision of the Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963, or the rules issued by the director of the Minnesota Historical Society. (2) Authorizes the director of the Minnesota Historical Society to suspend or revoke the license of any licensee, or refuse another license, or initially refuse a license to any person who has violated a provision of the Minnesota Field Archeology Act of 1963, whether the violation is willful or not. Authorizes the director also to refuse to name a school or a scientific institution as the custodian of objects or data under any license or agreement whatever, if that school or scientific institution has failed in its duty to care for and preserve objects or data belonging to the state or has failed to make such objects or data conveniently available to students of archeology.

Primary Topic: Archeological Activities

    Secondary Topic:
    • Violation / Penalty / Enforcement



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