| News

Jayapal Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Federal Properties From Being Sold if the Sale Harms a Tribe’s Access to Federal Services

Bicameral proposal by northwest lawmakers would halt any future sale of the National Archives and Records Administration facility in Seattle while guaranteeing that federally recognized Indian Tribes are consulted before the sale or transfer of federal properties

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Don Young (AK) led lawmakers today in introducing bipartisan legislation to finally require that federally recognized Indian Tribes are fully consulted before the sale or transfer of federal property that would impact their members. The ARCHIVES Act amends the Federal Assets Sale Transfer Act (FASTA) to add a requirement that properties cannot be sold or transferred if the sale would harm access to agency services — such as archives or records — by a federally recognized Tribe. This bicameral bill would effectively prevent any future effort to sell the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Seattle.

“While I am proud that our organizing alongside tribal members, researchers, universities, and other advocates successfully halted the misguided sale of the NARA facility, we must ensure that such an injustice never happens again,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “Our bipartisan legislation will not only ensure that Tribes are finally consulted before a sale is considered, it will also guarantee that the sale does not happen if it harms their access to Federal services. This is a critical step to making sure that our archives, history, and culture remain protected and accessible to communities right here at home and all across the Pacific Northwest.”

“The loss of Anchorage’s National Archives facility in 2014 dealt a devastating blow to our Alaska Native communities. The Archive’s contents are vast, and include records from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and countless other works important to Alaska Native history and culture. Years later, the loss of Seattle’s Archives represented another catastrophic development for our Indigenous people, as this was the next closest and most accessible Archives location for Alaskans. Thankfully, the sale was halted by the Administration earlier this year, but we must take legislative action to prevent something like this from happening again,” said Congressman Young. “Today, I am joining Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal as we introduce the ARCHIVES Act. Our bill amends the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act to require direct consultation with Tribes if a sale or transfer of property would impact their access to federal services. In Congress, I will continue working to ensure that the history of our country and its Indigenous people remain protected and accessible to the public for years to come.”

The bipartisan Assuring Regular Consultation to Have Indigenous Voices Effectively Solicited (ARCHIVES) Act guarantees new protections for federally recognized Indian Tribes by:

  • Ensuring the relevant Federal agency consults with all Tribal governments before a sale or transfer of a Federal property if it affects access to Federal agency services by a federally recognized Indian Tribe.
  • Preventing the sale or transfer of a Federal property if it would reduce or eliminate access to Federal agency services by a federally recognized Indian Tribe.

Representative Jayapal fought for months to save Seattle’s NARA facility while sharing the community’s frustration that the unacceptable decision to close this facility was made without consulting with the tribal members, researchers, local stakeholders, and other individuals who regularly access the archives. In March, she called on the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) to take immediate action to reverse their Office’s misguided decision to approve the sale of the facility after failing to consult tribal members and other stakeholders. In April, OMB did exactly that.

Congresswoman Jayapal’s sustained advocacy on this urgent issue began months earlier. Last year, she passed language into law that urges the Public Buildings Reform Board to increase transparency of the process for stakeholders and invite further input from them before making a decision on a facility’s status. Additionally, the language urged the Board to work with stakeholders associated with the Seattle facility to establish the necessary steps to maintain access to these irreplaceable records.

Today’s legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, Kim Schrier M.D., Mike Simpson, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland. The legislation was also introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The text of the bill is available here

###