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Law and Ojibwe Indian “Traditional Cultural Property” in the Organized Resistance to the Crandon Mine in Wisconsin


  • I would like to thank the members of the Sokaogan Community as well as Tom King, Anna Willow, Glenn Reynolds, and this article's anonymous reviewers for their guidance and suggestions.

Larry Nesper is Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I can be reached at


Section 106 of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires that federal agencies “must take into account” the impact of their regulatory actions on historical properties, among them the “traditional cultural properties” of American Indian tribes. Conceiving of tribes' own social practices in terms of property creates the possibility for making claims about its loss for tribes, but it also problematizes their cultures' inherent dynamism that implicates its putative authenticity. This article offers commentary on the implications of practicing a form of action anthropology for the concept of culture via discovery and explication of such property under the NHPA. The context is a small American Indian community's effort to resist the development of a copper-zinc mine adjacent to its reservation, on land that holds significant meaning for the community.