State Laws on Collecting Native American Art

Information on this website is not legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. Every situation is different. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice on your particular issue or problem.

State laws restricting collecting are sometimes more rigorous than federal laws and may restrict collecting even on private land.

Every state is different. New Mexico has a medium-restrictive set of state archaeological laws, focused on protecting archaeological sites and requiring archaeological investigation when artifacts or remains are discovered in construction. Texas has fewer restrictions. Oregon and Washington have many, some specifically directed at collecting by individuals, and they are quite restrictive.

Some states claim stewardship of culturally important relics regardless of where they are found. Some have very broad categories of protected artifacts. Some require certificates of origin to accompany all sales or exchanges of artifacts; since 1993, Oregon has required that certificates be notarized. When people with art collections move, they need to be prepared for new rules.

The New Mexico Cultural Properties Act makes unauthorized excavation on private land and all excavation on state or local government owned land illegal without a permit from the state. You must have training in archaeology to get a permit. Mechanical excavation, with bulldozer or backhoe is illegal even on private land without a permit. Landowners who register a site on their land with the state Cultural Property Review Committee are then subject to the rules and regulations on excavation laid down by the committee.

The facts of each case are very important. Please call for a consultation 505-412-2209.