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Country Summary for UNITED STATES

I.  Relevant Legislation
II.  Regulated Cultural Property


'Archaeological or ethnological material of the State Party'—
(A) any object of archaeological interest;
(B) any object of ethnological interest; or
(C) any fragment or part of any object referred to in subparagraph (A) or (B); which was first discovered within, and is subject to export control by, the State Party. For purposes of this paragraph—
(i) no object may be considered to be an object of archaeological interest unless such object—
(I) is of cultural significance;
(II) is at least two hundred and fifty years old; and
(III) was normally discovered as a result of scientific excavation, clandestine or accidental digging, or exploration on land or under water; and           
(ii) no object may be considered to be an object of ethnological interest unless such object is—
(I) the product of a tribal or nonindustrial society, and
(II) important to the cultural heritage of a people because of its distinctive characteristics, comparative rarity, or its contribution to the knowledge of the origins, development, or history of that people. (CPIA §2601(2))

'Archaeological resource'—any material remains of past human life or activities which are of archaeological interest [including], but not be limited to: pottery, basketry, bottles, weapons, weapon projectiles, tools, structures or portions of structures, pit houses, rock paintings, rock carvings, intaglios, graves, human skeletal materials, or any portion or piece of any of the foregoing items...No item shall be treated as an archaeological resource unless such item is at least 100 years of age. (ARPA §470bb(1))

[NAGPRA] 'cultural Items'—human remains and:
(A) associated funerary objects: presently in the possession or control of a Federal agency or museum;
(B) unassociated funerary objects: not in the possession or control of the Federal agency or museum and [which] can be identified by a preponderance of the evidence as related to specific individuals or families or to known human remains or, by a preponderance of the evidence, as having been removed from a specific burial site of an individual culturally affiliated with a particular Indian tribe;
(C) sacred objects: specific ceremonial objects which are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents; and
(D) cultural patrimony: objects having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central to the Native American group. (NAGPRA §2(3))

'Embedded'—firmly affixed in the submerged lands or in coralline formations. (ASA §2102)

‘Federal land’—
(A) land controlled or administered by the Secretary of the Interior, except Indian land; or
(B) National Forest System land controlled or administered by the Secretary of Agriculture. (PRPA §470aaa(2))

'Indian land'—lands of Indian tribes, or Indian individuals, which are either held in trust by the United States or subject to a restriction against alienation imposed by the United States. (ARPA §470bb(5); (PRPA §470aaa(3))

'Indian tribe'—any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation. (ARPA §470bb(5))

'Paleontological Resource'—means any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth’s crust, that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth, except that the term does not include:
(A) any materials associated with an archaeological resource (as defined in section 3(1) of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470bb(1)); or
(B) any cultural item (as defined in section 2 of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001)). (PRPA §470aaa(4))

'Public lands'—
(A) lands which are owned and administered by the United States as part of—
(i) the national park system,
(ii) the national wildlife refuge system, or
(iii) the national forest system; and
(B) all other lands the fee title to which is held by the United States, other than lands on the Outer Continental Shelf andlands which are under the jurisdiction of the Smithsonian Institution. (ARPA §470bb(3))

'Shipwreck'—means a vessel or wreck, its cargo, and other contents. (ASA §2102)

'Submerged lands'—
(1) "lands beneath navigable waters," as defined in §2 of the Submerged Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1301) 
(2) of Puerto Rico, as described in §8 of the Act of March 2, 1917, as amended (48 U.S.C. 749)
(3) of Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa, as described in §1 of Public Law 93-435 (48 U.S.C. 1705); and
(4) of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as described in §801 of Public Law 94-241 (48 U.S.C.1681). (ASA § 2102)


The public shall be given adequate notice of the location of any shipwreck to which title is asserted….The Secretary of the Interior…shall make a written determination that an abandoned shipwreck meets the criteria for eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. (ASA §2105(b))

Each Federal agency and each museum which has possession or control over holdings or collections of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects shall compile and inventory of such items. (NAGPRA §5(a))

Each Federal agency or museum which has possession or control over holdings or collections of native American unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony shall provide a written summary of such objects based upon available information held by such agency or museum. (NAGPRA §6(a))

After any agreement enters into force under [CPIA], or emergency action is taken under [CPIA §304], the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall by regulation promulgate…a list of the archaeological or ethnological material of the State Party covered by the agreement or by such action. (CPIA §2604)

III.  Export Restrictions

IV.  Ownership Rights and Restrictions

V.  Violations, Penalties and Sanctions

VI.  International Conventions and Bilateral Agreements
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Country Contact
for Cultural Property
Cultural Heritage Center (ECA/P/C)
SA-5, Floor C-2
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20522-05C2