22-3-802. Legislative findings and intent. (1) The legislature of the state of Montana finds that:
(a) the state and its citizens have an obligation to protect from disturbance or destruction all human skeletal remains, burial sites, and burial material, including those in marked, unmarked, unrecorded, registered, or unregistered graves or burial grounds located on state or private lands that are not protected as cemeteries or graveyards under existing state law;
(b) marked, unmarked, unrecorded, registered, or unregistered graves or burial grounds not protected as cemeteries or graveyards under existing state law are increasingly subject to pilferage, disturbance, and destruction for commercial purposes, including land development, agriculture, mining, and the sale of artifacts;
(c) private collection of artifacts may result in the destruction of burial sites. Existing law reflects the value society places on preserving human burial sites, but the law does not clearly provide equal and adequate protection or incentives to ensure preservation and protection of all burial sites in the state regardless of ethnic origin, burial context, or age.
(d) while some human skeletal remains and burial sites may be of interest to science, the needs of the scientific community to gather information and material from burial sites must be balanced with the legal, moral, and religious rights and obligations of tribal groups, next of kin, or descendants;
(e) preservation in place is the preferred policy for all human skeletal remains, burial sites, and burial material; and
(f) notwithstanding any other provision of law, this part is the exclusive law governing the treatment of human skeletal remains, burial sites, and burial materials.
(2) It is the intent of the legislature to:
(a) ensure that all burials be accorded equal treatment and respect for human dignity without reference to ethnic origin, cultural background, or religious affiliation;
(b) provide adequate protection for all interests related to any burial site encountered during archaeological excavation or agricultural, mining, construction, or other ground-disturbing activity on state and private lands without causing avoidable or undue delay or hardship for any person who has an interest in using the land on which the burial site is located;
(c) recognize the interests, concerns, and obligations of those having a kinship, tribal, cultural, or religious affiliation with the burial site and balance those interests against the interests of scientists, landowners, and developers;
(d) provide to the board an exemption from the open meeting and public records laws when public disclosure of the location of a burial site could result in pilferage, disturbance, or destruction of the site; and
(e) recognize the need for forensic examination of human skeletal remains, burial sites, and burial material if the county coroner, county attorney, or state medical examiner determines an examination is necessary under state law.