Archaeology under Section 106
Archaeological sites are identified and evaluated under Section 106 by federal agencies for their eligibility for listing in the National Register. Through consultation with stakeholders, such as State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations, federal agencies take into account the effects of their undertakings on eligible or listed archaeological sites. Together, the agency and the consulting parties specified in the ACHP’s regulations consider ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects, and it is in this consultation process that the finite and non-renewable nature of listed or eligible archaeological sites is considered, as well as the value these sites may have to different parties.
Origins of ACHP archaeology guidance
The extraordinary diversity of our nation’s archaeological heritage is only one of the many national historic preservation issues that fall within the ACHP’s broad agenda. The identification, analysis, and treatment of archaeological resources have always been a mainstay of the Section 106 process. Over the years, the ACHP has prepared several guidance documents that address archaeology in Section 106 review, including:
- Treatment of Archeological Properties: A Handbook (1980)
- Identification of Historic Properties: A Decision-making Guide for Managers (1988, joint ACHP-NPS publication)
- Consulting About Archeology Under Section 106 (1990)
- Recommended Approach for Consultation on Recovery of Significant Information from Archeological Sites (1999)
- Policy Statement Regarding Treatment of Burial Sites, Human Remains, and Funerary Objects (2007)
Although the ACHP’s “Treatment of Archeological Properties: A Handbook” (1980) is still cited, it has become dated. This current guidance does not replace this handbook but rather is designed to build on the foundation it established.
As with the Treatment Handbook, the current guidance has been developed under the direction of an Archaeology Task Force established by the chairman of the ACHP in 2003 to identify those new and recurring issues that should receive priority consideration and action by the ACHP. Following outreach to federal agencies, SHPOs/THPOs, Indian tribes and NHOs, and the professional archaeological community (Society for American Archaeology, the Society for Historical Archaeology, the American Cultural Resources Association, and the Register of Professional Archaeologists), the task force determined new Section 106 archaeology guidance was needed.