US Domestic Archaeological Heritage Law

  • Thomas F. King
Living reference work entry


To understand United States (US) law as it relates to archaeological resources, it is necessary to appreciate two facts.

First: The USA is a capitalist democracy made up of 50 more or less self-governing states (plus several territories and other jurisdictions) – each of which contains multiple semi-independent local governments. Besides these entities, there are over 500 American Indian tribes within the borders of the country, each of which is regarded in the law as a sovereign nation and many of which exercise control over land bases of varying scales.

Second: The US legal system circumscribes the rights of the federal government vis-à-vis those of the states, local governments, Indian tribes, and individual citizens (the last category strangely defined to include corporations). The rights of private property owners, though not absolute, are given considerable deference.

One result of these facts is that there is no generally applicable US law protecting archaeological...


Heritage Law State Historic Preservation Office (SHPOs) Native Hawaiian Groups Archaeological Resources Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) 
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Further Readings

  1. 36 CFR Part 800, protection of historic properties, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. 2018Google Scholar
  2. 36 CFR Part 79, curation of federally owned and administered archaeological collections. 2018Google Scholar
  3. 40 CFR Parts 1500–1508, regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, Council on Environmental Quality. 2018Google Scholar
  4. 43 CFR Part 10, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Regulations, National Park Service. Historic Sites Act. 16 USC 461–467. 2018Google Scholar
  5. Abandoned Shipwrecks Act, 43 USC 2101–2106. 2018Google Scholar
  6. Antiquities Act, 54 USC 32001-303 (previously 16 USC 431–433). 2018Google Scholar
  7. Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act, 54 USC 312501-08 (previously16 USC 469-469c-2). 2018Google Scholar
  8. Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 16 USC 470aa-mm. 2018Google Scholar
  9. King, T.F. 2005. Doing archaeology: a cultural resource management perspective. Walnut Creek (CA): Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  10. King, T.F. 2007. Saving places that matter: A citizen’s guide to the National Historic Preservation Act. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  11. National Environmental Policy Act, 42 USC 4321 et seq. National Historic Preservation Act, 16 USC 470. 2018Google Scholar
  12. Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 USC 3001–3013 and 18 USC 1170. 2018Google Scholar
  13. Neumann, T.W., R.M. Sanford, and K.G. Harry. 2010. Cultural resources archaeology. 2nd ed. Lanham: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  14. Sunken Military Craft Act, 10 USC 113. 2018Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas F. King
    • 1
  1. 1.Silver SpringUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Angela Labrador
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA