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National Register of Historic Places "Tracking Down Kad'yak"
August 26, 2004


Cannon from Kad'yak wreck (Courtesy Tane Casserley, NOAA) [LARGER IMAGE]

Kad'yak was added to the National Register of Historic Places this past July 14, joining a list of some 78,000 historic American sites, structures, and neighborhoods. With so many areas designated "historic," chances are that one or more of them is practically in your own backyard. But just what does it take for a place to join this list?

First, an area must be nominated. Anyone can submit a request to their state's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to do so. In turn, the SHPO brings the proposal before a state review board, which then tells the SHPO that they either approve or disapprove the nomination. At that point, SHPO notifies property owners and local officials, who have the opportunity to object. If no objection occurs (in which case the application is forwarded for nothing more than a determination of eligibility), the request goes directly to the National Park Service, which considers the area for actual registration.

In evaluating a locale, certain criteria are used. The National Register considers an eligible place to be one that may be associated with events that have made a great contribution to broad patterns in American history. It also looks to see if the place in question is associated with significant historical figures, if it includes distinctive characteristics of a certain period or has high artistic value, or if it gives--or will give--important historical information. Those are fairly general criteria, but other more specific rules prevent certain places from being approved to join the National Register. Ordinarily, graves, cemeteries, and places of worship are not considered unless they are of exceptional importance. The same goes for places that are less than 50 years old.

The entire process of a property becoming listed on the National Register is quite lengthy. Nominations take at least 90 days to get through the state. Then the National Park Service makes their decision, which is done within 45 days of receiving the nomination. Thus, each property goes through much consideration before it joins the National Register list. In being added to the National Register, Kad'yak, therefore, has not only been judged significant by underwater archaeologists and Russian historians, but it has also been deemed to be of national importance.

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© 2004 by the Archaeological Institute of America