(as of February 2005)

Date Enacted: Repealed and reenacted in 1973, amended 1990, 1991, 1995.

Summary: Section 13 of the Historical, Prehistorical and Archaeological Resources Act establishes a procedure with regard to unmarked human graves. Upon discovery of human remains, the coroner and sheriff, police chief or land managing official are notified and have 48 hours to determine if forensic study is necessary. If not, the coroner contacts the state archaeologist who determines if the remains are over 100 years old and if they are Native American. The Indian Commission is notified if the remains are Native American. Excavation of remains takes place unless all parties agree unanimously to leave them in situ. The State Archaeologist has 10 days to complete the excavation and assumes custody of the remains. Analysis is allowed for up to one year. The State Archaeologist consults with the Indian Commission on reinterment and pays for the disinterment and analysis of remains from state lands and of remains from private lands, if no one else is willing. If human remains are discovered during an anthropological investigation, the archaeologist will determine the age and, if possible, cultural affiliation. If the remains are less than 100 years old, the coroner is notified; if the remains are over 100 years old, the State Archaeologists is notified. Anyone who knowingly disturbs an unmarked human burial commits a Class 1 misdemeanor; any person who has knowledge that an unmarked human burial is being unlawfully disturbed and fails to notify the local law enforcement official commits a Class 2 misdemeanor. Any person who discovers on any land suspected human skeletal remains or who knowingly disturbs such remains must immediately notify the coroner of the county wherein the remains are located and the sheriff, police chief, or land managing agency official.

Online State Law Source:
Permits are required for excavation on state lands and are issued by the State Historic Society.
Penalties: Disturbing an unmarked burial is a Class 1 misdemeanor; failure to report a disturbance of an unmarked human is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Prison terms from three months to two years and fines of $500 to $5,000 may be assessed.
Review/Consultation Committee: Commission of Indian Affairs must be consulted.
Indian Affairs Office/Department:
Tribal Websites:

Resources: Historical, Prehistorical and Archaeological Resources (Colorado Rev. Stat. §24-80-401, et seq.), Rules and Procedures: Historical, Prehistorical, and Archaeological Resources Act.


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