An uncommon burialThough the May family’s place of internment is uncommon in North Dakota, headstones speckle fields throughout the state.
Though the May family’s place of internment is uncommon in North Dakota, headstones speckle fields throughout the state.
However, many of them are decades old and rules have changed.
The May family was comfortable sharing their story and the special place they intended to bury their family because of their close ties to rural North Dakota and their family
The family checked before Saturday’s service to make sure it was OK to bury their family members in the garden of sagebrush and tiger lilies on the farmstead that they called home for many years.
“When a person is cremated and their ashes placed in an urn they may be kept, scattered or buried almost anywhere as long as the family has permission and it does not affect government or other peoples property,” said Jim Ladbury, owner and licensed director of Ladbury Funeral Service in Dickinson, adding it is always good to check with proper authorities to be sure laws and guidelines are followed.
Billings County Deputy Sheriff Pat Rummel agrees, adding laws about burying bodies are much different.
Bodies getting buried in North Dakota have to be buried in a cemetery that is registered with the state, Ladbury and Rummel say.
“A person can’t just be buried anywhere they wish,” Rummel said. “They have to have special permission from proper authorities if they are to be buried somewhere out of the ordinary.”
Ladbury said it is possible to get a place such as a pasture or a favorite fishing spot as a registered cemetery but added a person would have to talk to local township, county, city and state officials to see what the necessary steps are.
It is illegal to knowingly disturb a marked or unmarked burial site in North Dakota without permission.
A person who unknowingly disturbs a grave must contact local officials. Then a team comes out to examine the body and site to gain historical knowledge and rule out foul play, officials say. The body is then re-interned in the same location or moved if burial there is not possible.
Rummel added besides laws about where someone can be buried there are also laws about how deep in the ground and what kind of liners must be used for burial, but he didn’t know offhand what they were.
No law in North Dakota prevents a person from burying their own dead as long as filing requirements are met, according the Bougler Funeral Home (Fargo) website.
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