Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (D-Sag Harbor) today announced that legislation he sponsored to safeguard unmarked burial grounds across New York has been included in this year’s Enacted State Budget (Public Protection and General Government, Part OO). The Unmarked Burial Site Protection Act, previously sponsored by former Assemblyman Englebright, passed both houses last year, but was vetoed by Governor Hochul in December 2022.
For years, New York was one of only three states that did not provide comprehensive protections to determine the cultural affiliation and disposition of human remains interred in an unmarked burial site. This legislation finally introduces 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, “The State should have intervened decades ago to protect the numerous unmarked burial grounds across New York. The enactment of the Unmarked Burial Site Protection Act is a major victory for our Native American communities like the Shinnecocks, the Ukechaugs and the Montauketts on the East End of Long Island. These groups have long advocated for this Act and I am grateful for their work and commitment to preserve their sacred burial grounds, which are of great historical and cultural significance to all the people of the state. This legislation is a crucial step in righting the wrongs of the past by giving these lands the recognition and protection that Native American burial grounds truly deserve.”