SHSND Home > Historic Preservation > Preservation Law > Federal Laws
The Archaeology & Historic Preservation File Room is open to cultural resource specialists (contractors) during the hours of 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday. No appointment necessary.

Federal Laws

Concerned citizens, cultural resource management consultants, and representatives of state and federal agencies who are involved in projects will find the resources listed below to be helpful.

The ANTIQUITIES ACT OF 1906 provides for the protection of historic, prehistoric, and scientific features located on federal lands. It authorizes the president to designate as National Monuments historic and natural resources of national significance located on federally owned or controlled land. The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Defense are authorized to issue permits for archaeological investigations on lands under their control to recognized educational and scientific institutions for the purpose of systematically and professionally gathering data of scientific value.

The NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ACT OF 1916 establishes the National Park Service to manage our nation’s parks and to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such a means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

The NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT OF 1966, as amended (16 USC 470 et seq.) establishes a program for the preservation of historic properties throughout the United States. It created State Historic Preservation Offices in each state, established the National Register of Historic Places and the Section 106 Review Process. 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 that 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.

The HISTORIC SITES ACT OF 1935 establishes a national policy of preservation for public use of historic sites, buildings and objects. This act led to the eventual establishment within the National Park Service of the Historic Sites Survey, the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), and the National Historic Landmarks Program.

The RESERVOIR SALVAGE ACT OF 1960 provides for the recovery and preservation of “historical and archaeological data (including relics and specimens)” that might be lost or destroyed in the construction of dams and reservoirs.

The DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 1966, Section 4(f) states that the Secretary of Transportation shall cooperate and consult with the Secretaries of the Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture, and with the States in developing transportation plans and programs that include measures to maintain or enhance the natural beauty of the lands traversed. The Secretary of Transportation shall not approve any program or project that requires the use of land from a public park, recreation area, wildlife and waterfowl refuge, or historic site unless there is no feasible and prudent alternative.

The NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT OF 1969, as amended (42 USC 4321, and 4331-4335) declares that it is a federal policy to “preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage. It requires federal agencies to use a systematic and interdisciplinary approach that incorporates the natural and social sciences in any planning and decision making that may impact our environment.

The ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT OF 1974, as amended (16 USC 469-469c-2) amends the 1960 Reservoir Salvage Act by providing for the preservation of significant scientific, prehistoric, historic and archaeological materials and data that might be lost or destroyed as a result of flooding, the construction of access roads, relocation of railroads and highways, or any other federally funded activity that is associated with the construction of a dam or reservoir.

The TAX REFORM ACT OF 1976 provides tax incentives to encourage the preservation of commercial historic structures. Amended many times since its original passage, the current law provides for a 20 percent federal income tax credit on monies used in the rehabilitation of commercial, agricultural, industrial, or rental buildings that are certified as historic properties.

The AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT OF 1978, as amended (42 USC 1996 and 1996a) states that it is a policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rites.

The ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES PROTECTION ACT OF 1979, as amended (16 USC 470aa-mm) defines archaeological resources as any material remains of past human life or activities that are of archaeological interest and at least 100 years old, requires federal permits for their excavation or removal and sets penalties for violators.

The NATIVE AMERICAN GRAVES PROTECTION AND REPATRIATION ACT OF 1990, as amended, (25 USC 3001 et seq.) gives ownership and control of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony that are excavated or discovered on federal land to federally recognized American Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations. The law also establishes criminal penalties for trafficking in human remains or cultural objects, and requires agencies and museums that receive federal funding to inventory those items in their possession, identify the descendants of and repatriate those items.>

EXECUTIVE ORDER 13007, INDIAN SACRED SITES instructs all federal land management agencies, to the extent practicable, to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian practitioners and to avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of those sacred sites.

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666

Social Media:
See all social media accounts