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Our Role

The Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) acts as the chief public contact for archaeology in Minnesota. All specific duties are outlined in Minnesota's laws and statutes.

Professional Archaeology Duties

With regard to serving Minnesota's professional archaeologists, the State Archaeologist:

  • Approves archaeologist's qualifications for licensing to work on public property
  • Approves curation arrangements of artifacts and data from public sites
  • Retrieves and protects artifacts and data discovered on public property
  • Authenticates all unrecorded burial sites over 50 years old


In service to government agencies and members of the public, the State Archaeologist also:

  • Cooperates with agencies to preserve and interpret archaeological sites
  • Reviews and comments on agency actions that may affect sites
  • Retrieves and protects archaeological remains disturbed by agency construction
  • Review development plans that may impact unrecorded burials

Daily Tasks

On a day-to-day basis, the State Archaeologist has seven major task areas:

  • Approving license applications in a careful yet timely manner and monitoring the activities of the licensees.
  • Reviewing site forms, issuing official inventory numbers, maintaining the inventory of known and suspected sites, and reviewing submitted archaeological reports.
  • Reviewing development plans submitted by government agencies and private entities to evaluate the potential for harm to archaeological sites in project areas.
  • Promoting and undertaking research in Minnesota archaeology.
  • Providing public education and answering archaeological questions from the public.
  • Ensuring protection of burial sites through careful record keeping, development plan review, interaction with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC), consultation with experts, and doing fieldwork.
  • Guiding the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites.

Other Duties

In addition to performing the duties assigned by Minnesota law, the State Archaeologist also traditionally:

  • Designs archaeological site inventory forms and reviews completed forms.
  • Assigns official state site numbers to archaeological sites.
  • Maintains an archaeological site inventory.
  • Maintains archaeological research and report files.
  • Organizes the annual Minnesota Archaeology Week.
  • Consults with Indian tribes and federal agencies about archaeological activities.
  • Works closely with MIAC to help develop Indian cemetery management procedures.
  • Provides archaeological information and comments on private developments.
  • Takes the lead in Legislative actions affecting archaeology.

The State Archaeologist also leads the Statewide Survey of Historical Archaeological Sites project. Read about this project and its recent publications on our Statewide Survey page.

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