Walrus Islands designated as national historic landmark

ANCHORAGE — A site in Alaska and 23 others have been designated as new national historic landmarks.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Wednesday announced the designation of Walrus Islands Archaeological District near Togiak as a national historic landmark.

The National Historic Landmarks Program is administered by the National Park Service. The agency, through the program, can provide states and communities with technical assistance, recognition and funding.

The aim is to recognize historic properties and promote preservation by federal, state, and local agencies, Native American tribes, private organizations and individuals, the agency said in the announcement.

Park Service spokesman Thomas Crosson in an email response to questions said the designation does not change how the site can be used.

“This is indeed different than a monument or park,” he said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game continues to have operational control of the islands, he said.

The seven Walrus Islands include Round Island, a prominent haulout site for Pacific walrus.

The Walrus Islands Archaeological District, according to the Park Service, is one of the few remaining places with evidence of human occupation of the Bering Sea continental shelf when sea levels were substantially lower.

At least 6,000 years ago, the agency said, the earliest inhabitants of Round Island were “marine-adapted and practiced more generalized settlement and subsistence patterns, including hunting walrus on the beaches, than previously recognized by Alaska researchers.”

Other historic landmarks announced are the site of the Kent State University Shootings on May 4, 1970, the site of the assassination of Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963, and Union Station in Omaha Nebraska, a distinctive example of Art Deco architecture.

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