Alaskan historical records relocation to Seattle angers Alaskans

by: Rob Munoz Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Hundreds, if not thousands of historical Alaskan federal records are being relocated to the National Archives in Seattle, angering many Alaskans.

Some of the documents are pre-1959, and date back to the 1800’s, when the state was still a U.S. territory.

 Their relocation has sparked outcry from many Alaskans, and has involved state senators, including Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).

 The 15,000 cubic feet of documents are being relocated after federal authorities decided to close their Anchorage storage space because of federal budget cuts, and a lack of space that could host the documents that require proper climate control and storage.

 The records include Bureau of Indian Affair records, Native American tribal allotments, historical FAA documents, maps of gas and oil exploration, and maps of abandoned mines at least 100 years old.

 “Having those documents in Alaska is just more than symbolic, but it's symbolic of the goodwill that the National Archives has,” says Dean Dawson, Alaska State Archivist.

 The documents, as federal records, are accessible to the public but Dawson felt they served native Alaskans better when they were housed in-state; he said legal professions often used them in court cases.

 Candice Lein-Hayes, with the National Archives in Seattle said they will still be accessible, just not directly on Alaskan soil.

 “It's unfortunate that the National Archives in Alaska is closing, but we will be protecting the records and making them available for researchers here as well,” she said.

 Lein-Hayes says the government organization is in the process of digitizing some of them to make them accessible on the internet.

 The National Archives in Seattle expects to receive all of the 15,000 cubic feet of paperwork and make it available to the public, by August 1.

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