Citation: Reburial Law (Okla. Stat. Ann. 21 Â§1161-1168.7).
Date Enacted: 1987, amended 1992
Summary: The statutes contain specific language on actions to be taken when human remains and/or burial furniture are discovered. While it does not specifically state what lands are covered, it does imply that all human burials are protected. It is a felony to buy, sell or barter for profit human remains or burial furniture previously buried in Oklahoma. Museums and scientific institutions, should they come into possession or knowledge of such remains, must consult with tribal leaders designated by the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission regarding disposition of remains can be traced to a specific group. If direct historical ties cannot be established, the final disposition of the remains will be determined by the State Historic Preservation Officer, State Archaeologist and Director of the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The law prohibits display of opened burials, human remains or burial furniture for profit. This is a misdemeanor and each day the display is opened is considered a separate offense. If human remains and/or burial furniture are discovered during a project, the activity ceases and the local law enforcement official is notified within 48 hours. Failure to report within 48 hours is a misdemeanor. If the remains are not the result of a crime, the State Archaeologist and the SHPO are notified within 15 days. If the remains have a direct historical relationship to a tribe, the State Archaeologist notifies the SHPO and consults with the tribal leader within 15 days regarding proposed treatment or scientific study and final disposition. If the remains are not traced to a tribe or if the remains are not claimed by the consulted group, the State Archaeologist, SHPO and Director of the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History may designate a repository for curation of the remains and burial furniture for scientific purposes.
Jurisdiction: The law implies that all public and private lands in Oklahoma.
Statute of Limitations: Not specified.
Areas Covered Under Act: All human burials and burial furniture in the state of Oklahoma.
Ownership: The SHPO takes responsibility.
Review/Consultation Committee: State officials must consult with tribal leaders designated by the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission.
Liable: Anyone who fails to report the discovery of such remains; knowingly disturbs or removes human remains or burial furniture; or sells, buys or barters in human remains or displays such remains is liable for prosecution.
Penalties: It is a misdemeanor to fail to report or to display opened graves, human remains or burial furniture with fines up to $500 and jail for up to six months. It is a felony to disturb human remains with penalties reaching $1,000 and up to two years in the state penitentiary.
Exemptions: Not specified.
Permitting: Permits are issued through the Office of the State Archaeologist.