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New York Human Remains Discovery Process (11-NY-c)

In the event that human remains are discovered during the course of archaeological investigations of the project site or during project construction, the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) recommends that developers follow the Human Remains Discovery Protocol. At all times, discovered human remains must be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Human remains and associated materials must not be collected or removed until the developer has consulted with the SHPO and other appropriate parties and the parties have developed a plan of action to avoid or remove the remains/materials. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.


Human Remains Discovery Process Process

11-NY-c.1 – Stop Work and Protect Location

If human remains are discovered during the course of archaeological investigations of the project site, or during project construction, the developer must immediately stop work in the general area of discovery. The developer must secure and protect the location from further damage and disturbance. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.

11-NY-c.2 – Notify All Appropriate Parties

The developer must immediately notify the SHPO, the state or federal agency authorizing/funding the project, the county coroner/medical examiner, local law enforcement, and any appropriate Indian Nations, of the discovery. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.

A map depicting Indian Nation Areas of Interest for tribal consultation purposes is available at the New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Indian Nation Areas of Interest web page.

11-NY-c.3 – Analyze the Nature of Remains

The coroner and local law enforcement analyze the discovery site and make an official ruling regarding the nature of the human remains, being either forensic or archaeological. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.

11-NY-c.4 – Are the remains of Native American Origin?

The coroner and local law enforcement determine whether the human remains are of Native American or non-Native American origin. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.

11-NY-c.5 – Consult with SHPO and the Appropriate Indian Nation

If the coroner and local law enforcement determine that the human remains are of Native American origin, the authorizing/funding agency must consult with the SHPO and the appropriate Indian Nation(s) to develop a plan of action that is consistent with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act guidance. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.

11-NY-c.6 – Consult with SHPO and Other Appropriate Parties

If the coroner and local law enforcement determine that the human remains are non-Native American, the authorizing/funding agency must consult with the SHPO and other appropriate parties to determine a plan of action. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.

11-NY-c.7 – Plan for Avoidance or Removal

The discovered remains must be left in place and protected from further disturbance until the parties generate a plan for their avoidance or removal. Human Remains Discovery Protocol.




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Edit New York State Historic Preservation Office
Coordinator & Native American Liaison
518-268-2179

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