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Anchorage Museum pauses policy offering free admission to Alaska Natives

Jan. 17—The Anchorage Museum has paused a policy announced this month that offered free admission to Alaska Native visitors.

In a written statement Tuesday afternoon, the museum said wanted to "make sure all policies involving access and availability are in line with the community's expectations while following all legal guidelines."

The policy announced Jan. 3 stated that Alaska Native visitors could self-declare at the museum's ticket counter and would not need any identification or tribal enrollment information to access the free admission.

There was some blowback to the policy on social media as well as a number of vocal supporters of the initial change. Museum chief communications officer Janet Asaro said the museum is "tuned into public discussion of the policy and are always listening to the feedback of the community."

Some critics have asserted that the policy change did not comply with the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But Asaro said no legal action has been taken to challenge the policy's legality.

In its release, the museum said it "remain(s) deeply committed to the goals of honoring Indigenous people and improving access to their cultural belongings." Asaro added the museum will "conduct a thorough and thoughtful review and determine next steps as quickly as possible."