EUGENE, Ore. — (Oct. 2, 2013) — The High Desert Museum in Bend has selected Thomas J. Connolly of the University of Oregon as the 2013 recipient of the Earle A. Chiles Award. The award recognizes Connolly's work in building a deeper understanding of Oregon's Native American cultures while promoting a collaborative approach to the management of cultural resources.
The Chiles Award was established in 1983 to raise awareness of contemporary issues in Oregon's High Desert region and to honor the professional contributions of an individual whose work has enhanced public understanding of the region's natural and cultural heritage.
The $15,000 award will be presented Dec. 3 at the 30th annual Earle A. Chiles Award Banquet in Portland. As part of the ceremony, Connolly will speak about the work.
Connolly has served as director of archaeological research at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH) since 1986. The museum's research division is a major force in the archaeology of the Pacific Northwest, with projects ranging from the radiocarbon dating of ancient fiber artifacts to studies of a 19th-century Klamath community.
Connolly's team regularly conducts archaeological investigations, primarily in Oregon, that assist public agencies and utility companies in protecting cultural resources. Connolly was praised by members of the Chiles Award committee for approaching such investigations, which often occur on culturally significant and/or sacred sites, in a way that respects and includes diverse parties.
"Two things made Dr. Connolly a worthy choice for the award: his holistic, far-reaching perspective on the Native cultures of the West and his kind, diplomatic approach to projects with multiple stakeholders," said Janeanne Upp, president of the High Desert Museum.
"Tribal cultural sites can be significantly impacted by public works projects and wildlife and forest management," said C. Melvin Aikens, UO professor emeritus and former MNCH director. "Federal and state agency staff consider Dr. Connolly a reliably effective partner in minimizing the impacts, and Oregon Tribal governments regard him as a trusted advocate for the protection of heritage and religious sites."
Connolly's team publishes dozens of technical reports each year, identifying the locations and cultural importance of archaeological sites around the state. The reports enable the design of roadways, intersections and bridges that avoid culturally sensitive sites and enhance the safety of the artifacts they may contain.
"I'm honored by this award, and especially to be included among the previous award recipients who have done so much for the preservation and enhancement of our natural and cultural heritage," Connolly said.
Connolly is best known for his work on ancient basketry and sandals from Oregon's High Desert, but his research has focused on ancient and historical communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Along with previous Chiles Award winners, UO archaeologists C. Melvin Aikens and Dennis Jenkins, Connolly is a co-author of "Oregon Archaeology" — a definitive text on the cultural history of the state, and a winner of a 2013 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.
"I've had the privilege of working on a great variety of archaeological projects, from sites of the continent’s earliest inhabitants to nineteenth-century homesteads. It is important to me to look beyond the artifacts themselves, and to come to understand the rich human history they represent."
About the Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History is Oregon’s primary repository of anthropological and paleontological collections. Its mission is to protect significant collections, enhance knowledge, and encourage stewardship of human and natural history through research, preservation, and education. The museum is located at 1680 E. 15th Ave., near historic Hayward Field, on the UO campus. Public exhibition hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information call 541-346-3024.
About the Earle A. Chiles Award
The Chiles award committee reviews nominations from Museum trustees, peer institutions and the public. The $15,000 award was established in 1983 in honor of Earle A. Chiles, Oregonian, businessman and philanthropist. It is funded by the Chiles Foundation.