Public Laws, Acts and Regulations
Congress has passed a sweeping group of protection and preservation laws that represent the importance the American people attach to safeguarding and maintaining the places that reflect our Nation's rich heritage.
The Antiquities Act of 1906
(P.L. 59-209; 34 Stat. 225; 16 U.S.C. 432, 433) is the earliest and most basic legislation for protecting cultural resources on Federal lands. It provides misdemeanor-level criminal penalties to control unauthorized uses. Appropriate scientific uses may be authorized through permits, and materials removed under a permit must be permanently preserved in a public museum. The 1906 Act is broader in scope than the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act, which partially supersedes it.
The Historic Sites Act of 1935
(P.L. 74-292; 49 Stat. 666; 16 U.S.C. 461) declares national policy to identify and preserve nationally significant "historic sites, buildings, objects and antiquities." It authorizes the National Historic Landmarks program and provides the foundation for the National Register of Historic Places authorized in 1966 in the National Historic Preservation Act.
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
(P.L. 89-665; 80 Stat. 915; 16 U.S.C. 470), as amended, expands the National Register of Historic Places and extends protection to historic places of State and local as well as national significance.
It establishes the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Officers, Tribal Preservation Officers, and a preservation grants-in-aid program.
Section 106 directs all Federal agencies to take into account effects of their actions ("undertakings") on properties in or eligible for the National Register, and Section 110(a) sets inventory, nomination, protection, and preservation responsibilities for federally owned cultural properties. Section 110(c) requires each Federal agency to designate a Preservation Officer to coordinate activities under the act. Section 106 of the act is implemented by regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Executive Order 11593
("Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment," 36 F.R. 8921, May 13, 1971) directs Federal agencies to inventory cultural properties under their jurisdiction, to nominate to the National Register all federally owned properties that meet the criteria, to use due caution until the inventory and nomination processes are completed, and also to assure that Federal plans and programs contribute to preservation and enhancement of non-Federal properties. Some of the provisions of the Executive Order were turned into Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
The Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974
The Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 amended the Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960 (P.L. 86-523; 74 Stat. 220, 221; 16 U.S.C. 469; P.L. 93-291; 88 Stat. 174; 16 U.S.C. 469), amended the Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960, providing for the preservation of historical and archaeological data that might otherwise be lost as the result of Federal construction projects or federally licensed or assisted programs. The act provides that up to one percent of congressionally authorized funds for a project may be spent from appropriated project funds to recover, preserve, and protect archaeological and historical data. BLM projects are rarely subject to line item authorization and appropriation, and this provision generally does not apply to BLM.
American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978
(P.L. 95-431; 92 Stat. 469; 42 U.S.C. 1996) resolves that it shall be the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiian the inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise their traditional religions, including access to religious sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites. Federal agencies are directed to evaluate their policies and procedures to determine if changes are needed to protect such rights and freedoms from agency practices. The act is a specific expression of First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom.
Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979
(P.L. 96-95; 93 Stat. 721; 16 U.S.C. 47Oaa et seq.), as amended, has felony-level penalties for excavating, removing, damaging, altering, or defacing any archaeological resource more than 100 years of age, on public lands or Indian lands, unless authorized by a permit. It prohibits the sale, purchase, exchange, transportation, receipt, or offering of any archaeological resource obtained in violation of any regulation or permit under the act or under any Federal, State, or local law. Its definitions, permit requirements, and criminal and civil penalties augment the Antiquities Act, which it partially supersedes.
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990
(P.L. 101-601; 104 Stat. 3048; 25 U.S.C. 3001) establishes rights of Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to claim ownership of certain"cultural items," including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony, held or controlled by Federal agencies and museums that receive Federal funds. It requires agencies and museums to identify holdings of such remains and objects and to work with appropriate Native Americans toward their repatriation. Permits for the excavation and/or removal of "cultural items" protected by the act require Native American consultation, as do discoveries of "cultural items" made during land use activities.