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Burial and Cemetery Protection

Indian burials and burial grounds are protected by law in the same manner as any grave or cemetery. It is illegal to knowingly disturb a grave without an appropriate permit. It is also illegal to know about, and fail to report, the disturbance of a grave. Important points of the new laws are:

  • It is illegal to disturb Indian burials (unless part of an authorized excavation by an archaeologist)
  • If human remains or burial goods are accidentally exposed, it should be immediately reported to the local law enforcement agency (usually the sheriff)
  • Any activity likely to further disturb the burial must cease until local or state authorities permit activity to continue.
  • The local law enforcement agency must work with the local coroner or medical examiner to determine if accidentally discovered human remains are a crime event or archeological site.
The Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns serves as a resource for helping to identify relatives or culturally affiliated groups that may be associated with discovered remains. In this capacity, the Council will work with local coroners or medical examiners and with State agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources.

Georgia Code Sections dealing with Burial Protection:

OCGA 44-12-260 -- Protection of American Indian Human Remains and Burial Objects

OCGA 36-72-1 -- Abandoned Cemeteries and Burial Grounds

OCGA 31-21-6 -- Dead Bodies

OCGA 12-3-52 -- Archaeological Exploration, Excavation, or Surveying; Administrative Appeal of Department Orders

Main Laws Protecting Burials from Disturbance in Georgia:

Cemetery Preservation Information:

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Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns
c/o Historic Preservation Division
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
2610 GA Hwy 155, SW, Stockbridge, GA 30281
Telephone: 770.389.7864
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