Laws Governing Cultural Resources

National Historic Preservation Act (1966)

This act requires review and approval from appropriate authorities for any project, activity or program that could have an effect on the character or use of archaeological or other historic properties. These include projects, activities or programs that are on TVA lands, receive financial assistance from TVA or require TVA permitting, licensing or approval. Read the text of the NHPA (PDF file). The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation oversees the Section 106 review process, which federal agencies must follow to comply with the NHPA. View Section 106 regulations (PDF file).

Archaeological Resources Protection Act (1979)

This act makes it a crime to dig for or remove archaeological resources from all federal land, including TVA-managed land, without a research permit. Archaeological resources are defined as any material remains of human life or activities that are at least 100 years of age and are of archaeological interest. Read the text of the ARPA (PDF file).

ARPA imposes criminal or civil penalties for unauthorized digging or collecting. It also provides rewards of up to $500 for information leading to conviction or civil fine. If you observe the looting or destruction of an archaeological site on TVA land, please report the incident to the TVA Police.

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990)

NAGPRA places two important responsibilities on federal agencies:

  • It requires federal agencies and museums to inventory Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony in their possession and repatriate those items to a lineal descendant or affiliated Native American group.
  • It establishes regulations and procedures for the intentional excavation or inadvertent discovery of Native American remains and associated objects on federal or tribal lands.

Anyone who discovers human remains and associated burial objects on TVA lands or during activities related to a TVA project should contact the TVA Police. Read the text of NAGPRA (PDF).

Related laws

Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 (PDF)
Antiquities Act of 1906 (PDF)
Reservoir Salvage Act of 1960
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (PDF)
American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (PDF)
Historic Sites Act of 1935 (PDF)
Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 (PDF)
Executive Order 13287: Preserve America (PDF)
Executive Order 13007: Indian Sacred Sites (PDF)
Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments (PDF)