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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Historic Preservation & Archaeology > Review & Compliance > Cemeteries Cemetery & Burial Ground Mandates & Laws

Porter Rea Cemetery - Potato Creek State Park, IN

 

There are several state laws pertaining to the maintenance, protection, and use of cemeteries. The following list offers a brief summary of the laws relating to cemeteries. To read any law in its entirety, click the IC number

State Cemetery Laws

IC 14-21-1-13.5 - Authorizes the Department of Natural Resources - Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology to conduct a survey program of every cemetery and burial ground in Indiana.

IC 14-21-1-7 - Defines human remains

IC 14-21-1-24 - Makes it illegal to farm or conduct animal husbandry in a cemetery

IC 14-21-1-26.5- A person may not disturb the ground within 100 feet of a burial ground or cemetery for the purpose of erecting, altering or repairing any structure without having a developmental plan approved by DHPA

IC 14-21-1-27 - A person finding human remains must notify DHPA within two days. Reburial will be in compliance with state laws.

IC 14-21-1-28 - Makes it illegal to disturb the ground for the purpose of discovering or removing artifacts, burial objects, grave markers, or human remains without a plan with DHPA.

IC 14-21-1-29 - If you find an artifact, notification of our department must be within two days.

IC 14-21-2 - Discusses removal of grave memorial with a new stone must be reported to the County Recorder; makes selling grave artifacts illegal.

IC 14-21-3 - Before a person buys property containing a cemetery, the current owner must record the deed in the recorder's office with CEMETERY in bold, capital letters on the bottom of the deed.

IC 23-14-67 - Discusses the creation of Cemetery Commissions at the county level.

IC 23-14-57 - Describes how cemeteries and human remains are disinterred.

IC 6-1.1-6.8 - A person with a cemetery on his/her land may have the value of the land (where the cemetery is located) accessed for the $1.00 per acre.

IC 23-14 - Defines a cemetery, discusses care of cemeteries in use, surveys of cemeteries, and other aspects of cemeteries in use.

IC 23-14-68
Care of cemetery by Township:

  • Cemeteries without funds for maintenance
  • In existence before February 28, 1939
  • Not managed by any viable organizations

Defines what the Township Trustee must do:

  • Reset and straighten all monuments
  • Level and seed the ground
  • Construct fences
  • Destroy detrimental plants, noxious weeds, and rank vegetation

IC 35-43 - Criminal Mischief - Allows for a person to be convicted under the criminal mischief law if they vandalize a cemetery.

Preservation

Some of the laws you need to be aware of when preserving a site:

  • You cannot trespass on private property to do work on another's property. So, before getting started, make sure you have talked to the landowner and have the authority to do the work.
  • Probing for stones is illegal without a permit from our office. While controversial, it helps protect the site from looters and from people impacting the graves with their probing rods. Contact the archaeology section of our office at (317) 232-1646 to discuss getting your probing permit.
  • There are no state laws that describe the techniques for preservation of cemeteries and gravestones, but there are best practices and standards to meet in order to assure that you are preserving the site in a way that will not eventually lead to damage.

Other Cemetery Resources