70-29. Discovery of remains and notification of authorities.

(a) Any person knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that unmarked human burials or human skeletal remains are being disturbed, destroyed, defaced, mutilated, removed, or exposed, shall notify immediately the medical examiner of the county in which the remains are encountered.

(b) If the unmarked human burials or human skeletal remains are encountered as a result of construction or agricultural activities, disturbance of the remains shall cease immediately and shall not resume without authorization from either the county medical examiner or the State Archaeologist, under the provisions of G.S. 70-30(c) or 70-30(d).

(c) (1) If the unmarked human burials or human skeletal remains are encountered by a professional archaeologist, as a result of survey or test excavations, the remains may be excavated and other activities may resume after notification, by telephone or registered letter, is provided to the State Archaeologist. The treatment, analysis and disposition of the remains shall come under the provisions of G.S. 70-34 and 70-35.

(2) If a professional archaeologist directing long-term (research designed to continue for one or more field seasons of four or more weeks' duration) systematic archaeological research sponsored by any accredited college or university in North Carolina, as a part of his research, recovers Native American skeletal remains, he may be exempted from the provisions of G.S. 70-30, 70-31, 70-32, 70-33, 70-34 and 70-35(c) of this Article so long as he:

a. Notifies the Executive Director within five working days of the initial discovery of Native American skeletal remains;

b. Reports to the Executive Director, at agreed upon intervals, the status of the project;

c. Curates the skeletal remains prior to ultimate disposition; and

d. Conducts no destructive skeletal analysis without the express permission of the Executive Director.

Upon completion of the project fieldwork, the professional archaeologist, in consultation with the skeletal analyst and the Executive Director, shall determine the schedule for the completion of the skeletal analysis. In the event of a disagreement, the time for completion of the skeletal analysis shall not exceed four years. The Executive Director shall have authority concerning the ultimate disposition of the Native American skeletal remains after analysis is completed in accordance with G.S. 70-35(a) and 70-36(b) and (c).

(d) The State Archaeologist shall notify the Chief, Medical Examiner Section, Division of Health Services, Department of Health and Human Services, of any reported human skeletal remains discovered by a professional archaeologist. (1981, c. 853, s. 2; 1997-443, s. 11A.118(a); 2007-484, s. 10(b).)