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Today, the United States Department of the Interior manages 500 million acres of surface land, about one-fifth of the land in the United States. Since enactment of the Antiquities Act in 1906, historic and scientific resources collected on public land have remained government property, held in trust for the people of the United States. As a result, the Department of the Interior manages nearly 204 million museum objects. Some of these objects are in federally managed repositories; others are in the repositories of partner institutions.

The establishment of the United States as a nation corresponded with the development of...

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