In a win for Alaska tribes, Biden admin nixes plan to sell National Archives building in Seattle

The National Archives and Records Administration facility in Seattle is earmarked for closure and to be sold in an effort to cut federal spending. The Office of Washington state’s Attorney General filed a motion to seek a preliminary injunction to block the sale. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

The Biden administration has cancelled the sale of a National Archives building in Seattle, citing a lack of tribal consultation.

Alaska Native and Pacific Northwest tribes opposed the sale when it was revealed during the Trump administration. They said the move would displace documents and artifacts important to their heritage. The plan was to rehome them in other Archives facilities in Missouri and California.

Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young wrote a letter Thursday saying that she’s withdrawing approval for the sale of the facility on Sand Point Way.

“The president’s January 26, 2021 Memorandum on Tribal Consultation ‘charges all executive departments and agencies with engaging in regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have tribal implications,’” she wrote. “But the process that led to the decision to approve the sale of the Federal Archives and Records Center is contrary to this administration’s tribal-consultation policy, and I am accordingly withdrawing OMB’s approval of the sale of that facility.”

The Alaska collection had already been displaced once. In 2014, the National Archives closed its Anchorage branch and moved almost everything to Seattle.

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