What!? It looks like you can legally own human bones in New York
Did you know that it is legal to own human bones in New York?
A member of a Hudson Valley mother’s Facebook group said she was quite shocked to learn that human bones can be bought and sold in New York City.
“We’re great Halloween folks and my husband ran into HUMAN BONES on etsy,” the wife wrote. “So we started to google and it is legal to own / buy / sell human bones. It’s legal except for owning all Native American bones. You can buy at auction. The majority are unclaimed bones from the coroner’s office. “
Hudson Valley Post has done some research and it looks like you can legally own human bones in New York City, with the exception of Native American bones.
New York Times bestselling author Caitlin Doughty, an undertaker, wrote the following for The Atlantic about owning, buying or selling bones:
In the United States, there is no federal law against owning, buying, or selling human remains, unless the remains are Native American. Otherwise, the possibility of selling or owning human remains is decided by each state. At least 38 states have laws that should prevent the sale of human remains, but in reality the laws are vague, confusing, and applied haphazardly.
However, Doughty adds “it’s almost impossible to get legal permission to display a parent’s skeleton.”
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Strange Biology also looked into the matter and, after interviewing numerous professionals, wrote that there was no law in New York City prohibiting the possession of human bones other than Native American bones.
Strange Biology spoke to the following people:
- Two Skulls Unlimited owners
- Two stars of the Obscura TV show, following a quirk store in New York (one of whom said he even consulted a lawyer, who also found nothing)
- An owner of The Bone Room
- A lawyer in New York State
- Two academics who focus on the academic use of human remains
- Entire communities of human collectors, bone collectors and curiosity collectors on Facebook
- Tanya Marsh the author of Human Remains Law
“None of these people could actually refer to a law restricting the trade in non-native bones in New York State!” Morbid Anatomy Museum. Most of these people speak very publicly about their business, and I don’t imagine they all source exclusively from the state, ”says Strange Biology.
The Bone Room, a website that sells human bones and manners, claims it can ship “real human bones” to New York.
“In short, it is perfectly legal to own and sell human bones in the United States. There are a few exceptions to this: A few states have banned the import and export, and of course, archaeological resources protected by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, “The Bone Room writes on its website.
The only states The Bone Room can’t ship to are Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisiana, according to The Bone Room.
Odd Joints, which is a custom skeletal joints company, wrote that a New York store got into trouble for selling human skulls.
“However, there is no written law in any of these states specifically prohibiting the sale of human bone,” says Odd Joints.
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