Heritage Sites

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO) is committed to protecting cultural heritage, as it is one of the central features that define human existence. While most people envision archaeology purely as ancient artifacts buried beneath deep layers of earth, archaeology also encompasses historical components. The term cultural resource includes both prehistoric and historic contexts as well as Traditional Cultural Properties. Our department is dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting, and understanding our collective past.

The Cultural Resources Department is comprised of the

  • Heritage Sites Program and
  • Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO)

The Heritage Sites Program conducts archaeological research within the Leech Lake Reservation, the Chippewa National Forest, and other areas within Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. We are a profit-based Program, combining cultural resource management (CRM) with a money-generating aim, which benefits both the cultural resources and the LLBO.

Protecting Cultural Properties

People have lived in the Leech Lake area for over 10,000 years. Remarkably, artifacts have survived that tell us the stories of their lives. People have always been drawn to the water. Lakes and rivers provided sustenance to ancient peoples, making these sites rich with cultural artifacts.

Broken pottery and stone flakes might not seem like much, but even tiny fragments help us understand how people interacted with their environment. Because prehistoric people had an intimate relationship with the environment in all aspects of their
lives, there is much we can learn from them in our stewardship of the land. That is why the Leech Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) and Heritage Sites Program work to preserve and protect the cultural resources of the region, so we can respect and learn from the wisdom of those who have lived before us.

While most people know what pottery and stone tools look like, many don’t know much more about them than their antiquity. Archaeologists on staff at the Heritage Sites Program are available to answer questions about the history of the area or cultural sites on public and private property. THPO maintains a large data-base of sites in the area, and this information is used to interpret past lifeways.

Burial Sites

People were often buried near where they lived. The disturbance of these burial sites is one of the major concerns regarding archaeological sites. A simple excavation for a basement may turn up more than expected. In addition to being upsetting, it can also be the cause of considerable delay while the situation is resolved through various federal and state agencies, including tribal government offices. Presented below is a brief description of the burial preservation law and procedures. This information is provided to help prevent accidental discoveries of ancient human remains.

Minnesota’s "Private Cemeteries Act" (MN Statute 307.08) affords all human remains and burials older than fifty years located outside of platted, recorded, or identified cemeteries protection from unauthorized disturbance; this statute applies to burials on public or private lands or waters.

It is a common misconception that if the government finds out there is an archaeological site on your property, they will seize your property or prevent you from developing it. Your property will never be taken because of an archaeological find on your site, and it is only under certain circumstances that you may be required to mitigate damages before developing your property.

In the event that a burial site is either known or suspected to be associated with American Indian people, contact the THPO office immediately for assistance
(see below). THPO works in conjunction with the Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council representatives to ensure the integrity of such burial sites is protected.

Do you think you might have an archaeological site on your property? THPO would love to know about it, both to advance knowledge of the area and to provide advice on what you can do to help preserve these cultural resources.

University of Minnesota Extension Credit

Cultrual Resources (218) 335-8095

Division of Resource Management (218) 335-7400