The Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist

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About the Office

Established in 1963, 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 MN Statutes 138.31-138.42 and 307.08.

Under MN Statutes 138.31-138.42, licensure through the 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. Proposed projects are reviewed to assess the appropriateness of research methodology and to assist in identifying strategies for mitigating potential adverse effects to known cultural resources. Only professional archaeologists meeting the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archaeology (36 CFR Part 61) may be licensed to conduct such investigations in the state of Minnesota. A copy of the application form, including terms and conditions for licensure, can be obtained by contacting the above address.

Minnesota's "Private Cemeteries Act" (307.08) affords all human remains and burials older than 50 years, and located outside of platted, recorded or identified cemeteries, protection from unauthorized disturbance; this statute applies to burials on either public or private lands or waters. Authentication of burial sites is conducted under the sole auspices of the OSA per this statute. In the event that a burial is either known or suspected to be associated with American Indian peoples, the OSA works in concert with representatives of Minnesota's tribal communities to ensure the integrity of such burial sites. The OSA maintains a database of identified burial sites in the state.

The OSA also maintains a database of the state's identified archaeological sites in collaboration with the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). For further information on this database, please contact either the above number or the SHPO.