Northwest senators introduce bill to halt sale of National Archives at Seattle

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Northwest senators introduce bill to halt sale of National Archives at Seattle

What once looked like a closed deal with the announced closure of the National Archives in Seattle may dissolve.

On Wednesday, a bill introduced by Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., Targeted the sale of the 10-acre Sand Point property, stating that federal real estate would not be sold without consulting “any tribal government that may be affected.” can.

The 23-line amendment contains four lines which are essential.

They state: “A civil federal property may not be sold or transferred. . . if the proposed sale or transfer would significantly reduce or prevent a federally recognized Native American tribe from accessing federal agency services. “

On February 12, US District Judge John Coughenour issued an injunction to stop the sale.

Speaking at the trial, Coughenour said federal officials could have avoided a “public relations disaster” if they showed “a degree of sensitivity” to the impact of the closure on the Northwest.

The history of 272 nationally recognized tribes in this region, as well as all federal records made in the Pacific Northwest, including military, land, judicial, tax and census records, will be postponed. The collection also contains more than 50,000 original files related to the Chinese Exclusion Law of 1882.

The federal government plans to move records from here to facilities in Kansas City, Missouri (1,840 miles away) and Riverside, California (1,200 miles away).

Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash .; Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrats; and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, a Republican known for her independence.

Charlene Nelson, 81-year-old Pacific County’s Shoalwater Bay Tribe chairwoman, said, “Oh, wonderful. I’m so excited. I wasn’t entirely sure if they belonged to all of us covenants. “

Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe, said: “We applaud the legislation. This particular action by the federal government has exacerbated the lack of consultation on federal institutions critical to tribal governance. “

There are various drafts of tribal treaties in the archives. They are important because some key elements may have been included in early drafts but inadvertently weren’t included in the final versions. The collection also contains more than 50,000 original files related to the Chinese Exclusion Law of 1882.

In a statement, Murray said she will “continue to work with the Biden-Harris administration to investigate all options available, including the appropriation process, and to ensure that the records and artifacts at the facility remain accessible to local stakeholders.”

The decision in January 2020 to sell the archives here was made by a five-member public building reform committee. That’s the little-known company that was founded in 2016 to find out what it considers to be excess federal assets.

Then board member Angela Styles, a Washington, DC-based government contract attorney, said the board was “not required by law to seek public submissions first.”

On Wednesday, Adam Bodner, executive director of the board, had no comment on Murray’s bill.