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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

307.08 Damages; illegal molestation of human remains; burials; cemeteries; penalty.

Subdivision 1. Legislative intent; scope. It is a declaration and statement of legislative intent 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. The provisions of this section shall apply to all human burials or human skeletal remains found on or in all public or private lands or waters in Minnesota.

Subd. 2. Felony; gross misdemeanor. A person who intentionally, willfully, and knowingly destroys, mutilates, injures, disturbs, or removes human skeletal remains or human burial grounds, is guilty of a felony. A person 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, and a person who, without authority from the trustees, state archaeologist, or Indian affairs council, discharges any firearms upon or over the grounds of any public or private cemetery or authenticated and identified Indian burial ground, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Subd. 3. Protective posting. Every authenticated and identified burial ground may be posted for protective purposes every 75 feet around its perimeter with signs listing the activities prohibited by subdivision 2 and the penalty for violation of it. Posting is at the discretion of the Indian affairs council in the case of Indian burials or at the discretion of the state archaeologist in the case of non-Indian burials.

Subd. 3a. Authentication. The state archaeologist shall authenticate all burial sites for purposes of this section and may enter on property for the purpose of authenticating burial sites. Only after obtaining written permission from the property owner or lessee, descendants of persons buried in burial sites covered by this section may enter the burial sites for the purpose of conducting religious ceremonies. This right of entry must not unreasonably burden property owners or unnecessarily restrict their use of the property.

Subd. 4. State archaeologist. The state shall retain the services of a qualified professional archaeologist, approved by the state archaeologist and the Indian Affairs Council, for the purpose of gathering 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 political subdivision.

Subd. 5. Cost; use of data. The cost of authentication, identification, marking, and rescue of unmarked or unidentified burial grounds or burials shall be the responsibility of the state. The 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 databases according to published data compatibility guidelines. Costs associated with this data delivery must be borne by the state.

Subd. 6. Approval of signs. The size, description and information on the signs must be approved by the Minnesota State Historical Society.

Subd. 7. Remains found outside of cemeteries. 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 according to the provisions of this section. If such burials are not Indian or their ethnic identity cannot be ascertained, as determined by the state archaeologist, they shall be dealt with in accordance with provisions established by the state archaeologist. If such burials are Indian, as determined by the state archaeologist, efforts shall be made by the state archaeologist and the Indian Affairs Council to ascertain their tribal identity. If their probable tribal identity can be determined, such remains shall at the discretion of the state archaeologist and Indian Affairs Council, be turned over to contemporary tribal leaders for disposition. If it is deemed desirable by the state archaeologist or the Indian Affairs Council, such remains shall be studied by a qualified professional archaeologist before being delivered to the tribal leaders. If tribal identity cannot be determined, the Indian remains must be dealt with in accordance with provisions established by the state archaeologist and the Indian Affairs Council.

Subd. 8. Burial ground relocation. No authenticated and identified Indian burial ground may be relocated unless the request to relocate is approved by the Indian Affairs Council. When the Indian burial ground is located on public lands or waters, the cost of removal is the responsibility of and shall be paid by the state or political subdivision controlling the lands or waters. If large Indian burial grounds are involved, efforts shall be made by the state to purchase and protect them instead of removing them to another location.

Subd. 9. Interagency cooperation. The Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation, and all other state agencies and local governmental units whose activities may be affected, shall cooperate with the state archaeologist and the Indian Affairs Council to carry out the provisions of this section.

Subd. 10. Construction and development plan review. When Indian burials are known or suspected to exist, on public lands or waters, the state or political subdivision controlling the lands or waters shall submit construction and development plans to the state archaeologist and the Indian Affairs Council for review prior to the time bids are advertised. The state archaeologist and the Indian Affairs Council shall promptly review the plans and make recommendations for the preservation or removal of the human burials or remains, which may be endangered by construction or development activities.

Subd. 11. Burial sites data. Burial sites locational and related data maintained by the Office of the State Archaeologist and accessible through the office's "Unplatted Burial Sites and Earthworks in Minnesota" Web site are security information for purposes of section 13.37. Persons who gain access to the data maintained on the site are subject to liability under section 13.08 and the penalty established by section 13.09 if they improperly use or further disseminate the data.

HIST: (7632) RL s 2964; 1976 c 48 s 1; 1980 c 457 s 1; 1983 c 282 s 1-4; 1986 c 463 s 1; 1989 c 335 art 1 s 199; 1993 c 326 art 4 s 9; 1999 c 86 art 1 s 64-67; 1Sp2003 c 8 art 2 s 17