License Minnesota

Archaeological Fieldwork

Under Minnesota statutes licensure through the Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) is required for field archaeology undertaken on all lands or waters owned, leased by or subject to the paramount right of the state or its subdivisions, as well as on lands impacted by publicly-funded development projects. The State Archaeologist "approves" the qualifications of license applicants. The Director of the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) actually "issues" the license.

Agency contact information:

Administration, Minnesota Department of
200 Administration Building
50 Sherburne Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 201-5555 | For TTY communication, use Minnesota Relay Service at 711 or (800) 627-3529
Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), Minnesota
Fort Snelling History Center | St. Paul, MN 55111 | (612) 725-2411
(612) 725-2427 (fax)


Minnesota Department of Administration Minnesota Office of the State Archeologist

Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), Minnesota

Historical Society, Minnesota
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
(651) 259-3000  

The Minnesota Department of Administration provides services to government agencies, information for vendors who wish to do business with the state, information on data practices, public auctions, State Register, Minnesota Bookstore's and more.


There are four types of archaeological licenses in Minnesota: 

A yearly license for reconnaissance/Phase I survey.

A site-specific license for site evaluations/Phase II.

A site-specific license for major excavations/Phase III.

A site-specific license for burial authentications. 

A state archaeological license is required for all archaeological work done on non-federal public property in Minnesota. This includes state parks and forests, road rights of way, and local government land. 

As specified in state law (Minn. Stat. § 138.36), the State Archaeologist approves the qualifications of an archaeologist applying for a license and forwards approved applications to the Director of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). While MHS technically “issues” the license under Minn. Stat. § 138.36, OSA is the entity that develops licensing procedures, reviews license applications, handles all correspondence with licensees and prospective licensees, and monitors the activities of the licensees. 

Archaeologists who have received the combined Phase I-II yearly license in the past are not necessarily qualified to receive a current Phase II Evaluation License, as receiving that license will be dependent on demonstration of appropriate personal qualifications for each site involved. This includes detailed familiarity with the historic contexts present at the site and the archaeological region where the site is located. Applicants for Phase III licenses and authentication licenses need to meet the highest professional standards with regard to past performance and past experience.

Refer to:


Reporting Sites

Survey Requirements

Survey Manual

Curation Agreements



Period of Issuance:

Calendar year. Valid through January 31 of the following calendar year, with provisions for one calendar year extension (as warranted, on case-by-case basis).

Other Pertinent Information:

See Minn. Stat. § 138.31-.42. 

The Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) acts as the chief public contact for archaeology in Minnesota. Specific duties are outlined in Minnesota's laws and statutes. See Minn. Stats. §§ 138.31-.42 and 307.08.

Under Minn. Stat. § 307.08 the Office of the State archaeologist authenticates all unrecorded burial sites over 50 years old, reviews development plans that may impact unrecorded burials, maintains records regarding unplatted burial sites, receives reports of violations of Minn. Stat. § 307.08, and works with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council to develop procedures on how to deal with unrecorded Indian cemeteries.