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Doing Archaeology in Minnesota

Cultural Resource Management (CRM)








Cultural resources management (CRM) is an outgrowth of the historic preservation movement. It has gradually come to dominate the field of archaeology since the passage of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This law created the National Register of Historic Places along with State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), and it required federal agencies to follow strict guidelines in the handling of cultural resources on federal land and in federally funded projects. Many states and some localities have enacted corresponding or supplementary laws. In the 1990s most archaeologists in Minnesota, as elsewhere in the United States, are working for government agencies or for private contracting firms where emphasis is upon CRM rather than upon education and research.

The agencies now most directly involved with CRM are the National Park Service (which directs the National Register), state and local agencies responsible for parks and other forms of land management, highway departments, and the U.S. Corps of Engineers, as well as local and regional bodies responsible for waterway management. In Minnesota, tribal governments have also taken an active role in CRM. The Leech Lake Band and the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians both have recognized Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council maintains staff responsible for oversight of cultural resources work.

Although it has resulted in more money for archaeology and a greatly increased amount of excavation, CRM is narrowly channeled toward compliance with laws and regulations, preservation of specific sites, and hurried salvage of materials from sites destined for destruction. Broad research concerning the past is not its purpose. Education and public interpretation are secondary goals, but in fact most reports resulting from CRM work are stated in technical language and are designed to fulfill contract obligations with a minimum of cost. Nearly 50 organizations are currently engaged in such work in Minnesota. An updated list of these can be obtained from the State Historic Preservation Office at:

345 Kellogg Boulevard West
St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
(612) 296-5434



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Updated 29 Jun 1999