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)


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.


Under Minn. Stat. § 138.36, the State Archaeologist "approves" the qualifications of license applicants. The Director of the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) actually "issues" the license. The Office of the State Archaeologist is responsible for all the license paperwork, such as developing the forms and sending out the forms. Forms and statement of qualifications are returned to and then reviewed by the Office of the State Archaeologist. Approved forms are sent to the MNHS. When the State Archaeologist receives the signed forms from MNHS, they are sent to the applicant. The state Archaeologist then tracks the activities done under the license.

State of Minnesota archaeological licenses are only required for archaeology work on non-federal public lands in Minnesota. The federal government has its own license for work on federal lands.

"No license is required on private lands except if the archaeological work involves the authentication of human burial grounds as stipulated in Minn. Stat. § 307.08. The State Archaeologist issues licenses for burial authentications on private land. If the burial ground may be Indian, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council is asked to co-sign the license."

In order to be qualified to receive a license, the applicant must have an advanced degree and appropriate experience.

The Office of the State Archaeologist has streamlined the archaeological licensing procedure in Minnesota. Archaeological survey and excavation licenses are now issued to a qualified individual for a entire calendar year. Individual site excavation licenses are still issued for a single fieldwork episode.

Minnesota Archaeological Licensing Professional Qualifications Standards: Requirements for obtaining State Archaeological Licenses | Guide details

Minnesota Archaeology Site Form: Data collection form used to document archaeological sites | Form details

Minnesota Archaeology Site Form Instructions: Guidance on when and how to fill out a when and how to submit a site form to the Minnesota State Archaeologist | Form details



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) is charged with sponsoring, conducting and directing research into the prehistoric and historic archaeology of Minnesota; protecting and preserving archaeological sites and objects; disseminating archaeological information through the publication of reports and articles; identifying, authenticating and protecting human burial sites; reviewing and licensing archaeological fieldwork conducted within the state; and enforcing provisions of 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.