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License Types

There are seven types of archaeological licenses in Minnesota. All licenses are issued on a per-project or per-site basis.

  1. Phase I reconnaissance survey license (issued per project).
  2. Phase II evaluation license (issued per site)
  3. Phase III data recovery license (issued per site)
  4. Burial authentication license (issued per site)
  5. License for monitoring construction – usually associated with a burial or cemetery site (issued per site)
  6. Emergency license (issued on an emergency basis)
  7. Education/Research/ Public Outreach license (issued for archeological investigations that fall outside development-driven projects)

Minnesota requires that all archaeological work conducted on non-federal, public property be licensed, including state parks and forests, road rights of way, and local government land.

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) and Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) jointly develop the licensing procedures and requirements. As specified in state law (MS 138.36), the State Archaeologist approves an applicant’s qualifications and forwards the approved application to the Director of the Minnesota Historical Society, or their delegate, to issue. While MNHS technically “issues” the license under MS 138.36, the OSA reviews license applications, handles correspondence with licensees and prospective licensees, and monitors the activities of the licensees. The OSA and MNHS consult with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) regarding all license applications.

Archaeologists who have received Phase I survey licenses are not necessarily qualified to receive other levels of licenses, as receiving that license is dependent on the demonstration of appropriate personal qualifications for each site involved. Personal qualifications can include detailed familiarity with the historic contexts within the site’s archaeological region or site type. Applicants for Phase III, and Burial authentication licenses must meet the highest professional standards concerning past performance, experience, and professional ethics.

Please see our Apply for a License page for more details. 

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