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Laws and Policies About American Indian Sites and Objects in Georgia

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State Laws and American Indian Sites

State laws prohibit digging on, disturbance to, or harm of any archaeological, aboriginal, prehistoric, or historic site without written permission of the landowner and notification of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. See OCGA 12-3-621.

State Laws and Burials

State laws prohibit exposing, removing, or disturbing human burials except as part of a legitimate archaeological investigation. See OCGA 31-21-44 and OCGA 31-21-6.

State laws require immediate protection of suspected human remains and immediate reporting of them to local law enforcement. See OCGA 31-21-6.

State laws require following a strict set of procedures before moving any grave in Georgia. If graves are thought to be those of American Indians, the Council is to be notified as a resource for notifying possible descendants. See OCGA 36-72-1.

State Laws and Private Property

State laws do not prohibit landowners from surface collecting, or digging, disturbing, or harming sites on their own property. However, state laws require landowners to notify the Department of Natural Resources if they are disturbing or intend to disturb the surface of an archaeological site on their own property.

State Laws and State Property

State laws require a permit from the Department of Natural Resources to surface collect, metal detect, or dig on any state property. State property includes state parks, historic sites, wildlife management areas, recreation areas, state forests, state highway rights-of-way, navigable river and stream bottoms, and the coast out to three miles. See OCGA 12-3-10, OCGA 12-3-52, and OCGA 12-3-80 to 83.

State Laws and Repatriation of Museum Artifacts

State laws apply to American Indian human remains and artifacts found on private, local, and state lands. The laws prohibit the knowing purchase, sale, trade, import, or export for profit of any American Indian burial or sacred objects. See OCGA 12-3-622.

State laws prohibit the display of American Indian human remains or bones. See OCGA 31-21-45.

The Council works with museums in Georgia to ensure their compliance with state and federal laws regarding American Indian materials. The Council will assist museums in preparing inventories of their holdings of human remains and burial objects as required by law. See OCGA 44-12-261 or OCGA 44-12-262.

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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
Copyright © by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. All rights reserved.