Assemblyman Thiele Introduces Legislation to Protect Unmarked Burial Grounds

Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (D-Sag Harbor) today announced that he has introduced the Unmarked Burial Site Protection Act to safeguard unmarked burial grounds across New York. This legislation, previously sponsored by former Assemblyman Englebright, passed both houses last year, but was vetoed by Governor Hochul in December 2022.

Currently, New York is one of only three states that do not provide comprehensive protections to determine the cultural affiliation and disposition of human remains interred in an unmarked burial site. This legislation (A.2029) would enact the necessary measures to prevent additional destruction of these sites when culturally significant remains or funerary items are uncovered by developers during home construction or renovation.

Assemblymember Fred Thiele said, “Native burial sites throughout New York deserve protection and should be accorded dignity and respect. Native American communities like the Shinnecocks, the Ukechaugs and the Montauketts in my district have worked diligently to protect their sacred burial lands. The Community Preservation Fund has also been indispensable in preserving critical sites like Sugar Loaf in Shinnecock Hills. This bill would provide much needed protection to these sites. It is a crucial step in righting the wrongs of the past by giving these lands the recognition and protection that Native American burial grounds deserve. The Governor’s decision to veto this legislation last year was ill-considered. The Governor must take a fresh look at this issue. Justice demands it. I look forward to working with my Assembly colleagues, the Senate, and the Governor to help our Native American communities preserve these sacred lands.”