New Mexico Human Burial Discovery (11-NM-c)
Human Burial Discovery Process
11-NM-c.1 to 11-NM-c.2 – Cease Activity and Notify Local Law Enforcement
A developer who discovers an unmarked human burial or unmarked burial ground must cease any activity that may disturb that burial or burial ground or any object or artifact associated with that burial or burial ground and notify the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the area. The local law enforcement agency will then notify the Medical lnvestigator (MI) and the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division (NMHPD). NMAC 18.104.22.168
11-NM-c.3 to 11-NM-c.4 – Does the Burial Have Medicolegal Significance?
The MI and a NMHPD representative will make a joint determination as to whether or not the burial or burial grounds have medicolegal significance. If the burials have medicolegal significance, the MI retains sole jurisdiction over the burials and begins a medical investigation. Development may not continue during the course of the medical investigation. NMAC 22.214.171.124.
11-NM-c.5 – Retain Archaeologist with Burial Permit
If the MI and NMHPD representative determine that the burial or burial grounds do not have medicolegal significance, the developer must retain an archaeologist or anthropologist with a burial permit. The NMHPD provides a directory of qualified supervisory personnel on their website. Note that the chosen archaeologist must be specifically qualified to conduct burial excavations. NMAC 126.96.36.199-9.
11-NM-c.6 to 11-NM-c.8 – Can the Burial be Avoided and Protected if Left in Place?
The NMHPD will determine whether the burials can be avoided by and protected from the project if left in place. If the NMHPD determines that the burials can be avoided and protected, the developer may continue with the project. Otherwise, the archaeologist will have to excavate the burials.
11-NM-c.9 – Burial Report
Within 45 days of completion of excavation the archaeologist will submit a recommended plan for the disposition of human remains (if not already specified in the permit application and execution process) and, once approved by the NMHPD, implement the plan within 30 days. Within 12 months of fieldwork, archaeologists are required to submit a final burial report on the excavations of a human burial conducted under the permit to the NMHPD. NMAC 188.8.131.52 and NMAC 184.108.40.206.
11-NM-c.10 to 11-NM-c.11 – Are the Burials Native American?
The required methods for identifying and notifying living persons who may be related to the human burial depend on whether the evidence suggests a burial is of Native American origin as opposed to non-Native American origin. If Non-Native American, the archaeologist will attempt to locate and notify any persons who may be related to the human burial in writing or through legal notice. Persons contacted who may be related to the human burial have 30 days to make recommendations to the archaeologist regarding the disposition of the human remains. NMAC 220.127.116.11.B.
11-NM-c.12 to 11-NM-c.13 – Notify NMIAD, Tribes and Pueblos
If the evidence suggests the burial is of Native American origin, the NMHPD will notify the New Mexico Indian Affairs Division (NMIAD), Tribes and Pueblos and transmit information about the human burial. The NMIAD will attempt to identify living persons who may be related to the human burial and either the NMIAD or a spokesperson for a Tribe or Pueblo claiming a relationship to the human burial may make a recommendation for disposition of the human remains. Thirty days after notice to NMIAD, NMHPD will notify the archaeologist of any recommendations for the Disposition Plan based on any comments received. NMAC 18.104.22.168.A.
11-NM-c.14 to 11-NM-c.15 – Disposition Plan
After the requisite notice process described in 11-NM-11 through 11-NM-13, the archaeologists prepares and submits a Disposition Plan to the NMHPD. The NMHPD will review the plan, potentially comment and/or modify, and subsequently approve the plan. The archaeologist is responsible for carrying out the approved Disposition Plan.
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