US Domestic Archaeological Heritage Law
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.
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