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Federal, State, and Local Legislation


National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (16 USC 470 et seq.) is the most comprehensive federal law pertaining to the protection of cultural resources. It created State Historic Preservation Offices in each state, established the National Register of Historic Places and created a federal-state-tribal-local partnership. Among its provisions:

  • Section 106 requires federal agencies to consider the effect of their activities on historic properties and to afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation the opportunity to comment on those activities. In practice, this provision is administered under regulations defined in 36 CFR 800, which require federal agencies consult with the State/Tribal Historic Preservation Office in all undertakings. Certain projects that affect historic properties also are referred to the Advisory Council.
  • Section 110 defines the broad requirements for preservation programs in federal agencies.

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 USC 4321, and 4331 - 4335)

Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974, as amended (16 USC 469-469c-2)

American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, as amended (42 USC 1996 and 1996a)

Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, as amended (16 USC 470aa-mm)

Abandoned Shipwrecks Act of 1987 (43 U.S.C. 2101-2106)

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, as amended, (25 USC 3001 et seq.)


Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 138 designates the director of the Minnesota Historical Society as the State Historic Preservation Officer (MS 138.081) and places responsibility for Minnesota's historic preservation program with the Minnesota Historical Society. Other sections pertaining to historic and archaeological resources:

  • Minnesota Field Archaeology Act (MS 138.31-138.42) establishes the office of the State Archaeologist; requires licenses to engage in archaeology on nonfederal public land; establishes ownership, custody and use of objects and data recovered during survey; and requires state agencies to submit development plans to the State Archaeologist, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council for review when there are known or suspected archaeological sites in the area.
  • Minnesota Historic Sites Act (MS 138.661-138.669) establishes the State Historic Sites Network and the State Register of Historic Places and requires that state agencies consult with the Minnesota Historical Society before undertaking or licensing projects that may affect properties on the Network or on the State or National Registers of Historic Places.
  • Minnesota Historic Districts Act (MS 138.71-138.75) designates certain historic districts and enables local governing bodies to create commissions to provide architectural control in these areas.

Minnesota Statutes 471.193 enables local units of government to establish heritage preservation commissions. This provides perhaps the most comprehensive protection of historic properties because it is at the local government level where most decisions about land and buildings are made.

Minnesota Private Cemeteries Act , a portion of this legislation protects all human burials or skeletal remains on public or private land.

Other state laws and rules pertaining to protection of cultural resources:

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