National Park Service


Date of this Version



U.S. Department of Interior, Archeological Assistance Program Technical Brief No. 16, February 1994.



The Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA)1, as amended, provides a means to assertively protect the ancient and historic remains of the cultures that have inhabited Federal and Indian lands. The Act provides for criminal and civil penalties against those who excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface archeological resources, or attempt to do so, without a permit.2 ARPA with its amendments and accompanying Uniform Regulations offer agencies flexible alternatives to employ in the preservation of resources under their protection.3

Criminal enforcement of ARPA has become an active part of the repertoire of agencies across the United States.4 It is not unusual for vehicles and the tools of the violation to be subjected to seizure in connection with the criminal prosecution.5 In contrast, civil prosecution under ARPA has been rarely and only recently pursued.6 The purpose of this technical brief is to provide a familiarity with the civil provisions of ARPA that may expand its future use.

Background of the civil process

Development of the civil law

Cooperative agreements

The civil advantage

Agency policy determination

Issues in the proof of a civil case



Protection of archeological resources

Authority of a permit

Calculating the amount of damage


Intent, a non-issue in actions based on negligence

Procedural component of a civil case

Report to the land manager

Notice of the violation

Respondent’s options

Informal meeting

Petition for relief and formal hearing

Assessment of a penalty

Administrative hearing

Payment of the penalty

Forfeiture of vehicles and tools

Prognosis for use


Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C