Statement from Puyallup Tribal Council on Biden administration decision to halt the sale of the National Archives center in Seattle

The previous administration’s decision to fast-track the sale of the Sand Point archives center in the name of money ignored its affirmed federal trust responsibility to engage in meaningful consultation with tribes. It is heartening to see the new administration recognize its treaty responsibilities and stop the sale.

The archives complex holds history of 272 federally recognized tribes, including our own. Tribal members use the records to establish membership, show fishing rights, trace ancestry and access Native school records. These documents tell our Tribe’s story. Less than 1 percent of them are online.

Several of our members have shared their very personal stories of what access to the archives has meant to them (Link: They shared the harm the records’ removal would mean to families attempting to learn about their ancestors, and to our Tribe in its never-ending fight to protect treaty rights. We thank them for opening up. We thank our legal team for fighting. We thank the numerous other tribes and organizations that depend on the archives for fighting, and we thank the state attorney general for intervening and standing up for us.

This battle ended in victory. It also showed we must stay vigilant to protect our people and our treaty rights. We promise our membership that we will stay on guard.

Chairman Bill Sterud talks on video call.
Chairman Bill Sterud speaks on a video call about the decision with the White House and fellow tribal leaders the morning of April 9.