Update: Meeting scheduled for public comment on NARA!

Attorney General Ferguson announced a virtual public comment meeting for Tuesday, January 19, from 3:30 to 5:30pm.

The Attorney General said,  “The federal government continues its complete indifference for the communities, tribes and individuals impacted by its plan to sell the National Archives facility and export archival records out of the region. . . . I’m inviting Washingtonians to tell the federal government what this building, and the millions of records it houses, means to them and their communities.”

Join in and let your voice be heard!

Zoom link: https://atg-wa.zoom.us/j/83852186385?pwd=amIvSHA4MHJJdzRVcDgzRSthQjdpQT09
Meeting ID: 838 5218 6385
Passcode: 426894

Phone: 253-215-8782, 838-521-863-85#
Find your local number: https://atg-wa.zoom.us/u/kBnoJrmI5

Along with other cultural organizations, the Washington Trust has been carefully tracking the proposed sale of the National Archives and Records Administration Pacific Region (NARA) building at Sand Point in Seattle this past year. On January 4, 2021, the Washington Trust—along with 29 federally recognized tribes, Alaskan tribal entities, and tribal communities from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska; nine community organizations, historic preservation organizations, and museums; and the State of Oregon—joined a lawsuit filed by the Washington State Attorney General’s office to stop the sale of the archives building.

The federal government has proposed to bundle the NARA building with 11 other federal properties deemed as “surplus” to be sold to a single buyer. The archive currently holds irreplaceable tribal and treaty records, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, and records regarding the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, much of which is not digitized. The sale of the building would move these records to either Missouri or California, which would render them largely inaccessible to the Pacific Northwest communities to whom they relate. According to NARA’s Seattle director, only “0.001% of the facility’s 56,000 cubic feet of records are digitized and available online.”

The statute that the federal government is using to justify the sale exempts “properties used in connection with federal programs for agricultural, recreational, or conservation purposes, including research in connection with the programs.” The Washington Trust and other historic preservation organizations have joined the lawsuit because research conducted at the Seattle NARA building contributes to the preparation of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places as well as to research related to the utilization of the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program—both federal programs under the National Park Service.

For more background on the issue and a full list of plaintiffs, you can read the Attorney General’s press release:

AG Press Release

The Washington Trust is proud to stand with our Attorney General and the many tribes and cultural organizations who are fighting to save this irreplaceable repository of the history of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.

Photos included in a letter sent from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office to the federal government in February 2020 which demonstrate the value of the archives: