Four Public Service and Tribal Employees Honored for Work in Historic Preservation
WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Department of the Interior has honored four government and tribal employees with the annual Secretary of the Interior Historic Preservation Awards, recognizing their outstanding contributions to the preservation of historic places and artifacts.
”The four recipients of this year’s Historic Preservation Award have demonstrated a commitment to telling the story of America through the preservation of places and artifacts important to our past,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. “Their work not only enriches our nation by preserving our social, cultural and ethnic heritage but also creates jobs and spurs heritage tourism in communities across the country.”
“These award recipients demonstrate how partners at the federal, state, local and tribal levels can work together to ensure that the story of America continues to be passed down to future generations,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “Their work not only helps preserve state and local historic sites, but also helps communities build civic pride as they celebrate their heritage.”
The Secretary's award is distinguished from other historic preservation award programs in that it focuses on the accomplishments of individuals and not on programs or projects. The award also recognizes the contributions of employees at multiple levels of government.
Award winners’ contributions surpass the expected scope of their positions and their creativity and expertise have significantly fostered the overall goals of the National Historic Preservation Act.
The winners of the 2013 awards are:
Federal Preservation Office Category -- John S. Wilson, Regional Preservation Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (retired)
As Regional Preservation Office for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, John Wilson was responsible for historic preservation and environmental compliance projects across 13 northeastern states encompassing 72 National Wildlife Refuges, which receive over $125 million in grants for tribal, state, and private conservation projects annually. As the principal preservation experts for the region, John and his team reviewed 300 to 500 requests for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act each year and provided oversight for thousands of archaeological sites and historic buildings, nearly 200,000 museum items, and volunteers who contributed hundreds of hours to cultural resource interpretation.
State Historic Preservation Office Category --Ann L. Swanson, Grants Operation Analyst, Idaho State Historic Preservation Office (retired)
Before her retirement in 2013, Ann Swanson had served in the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office for more than three decades. In 1982, she took over the leadership of the new Certified Local Government program and over the years distributed more than 400 grants worth a total of $1.5 million to 46 communities across the state and oversaw the designation of 33 Certified Local Governments in Idaho. One of her enduring strengths was her ability to connect with local residents and help them realize that what they have in their modest communities may be of historic importance and interest. In 2009 Preservation Idaho presented Ann with their Orchid Award as a Distinguished Preservationist.
Tribal Historic Preservation Office Category --Alan S. Downer, Ph.D., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Navajo Nation
As the principal historic preservation expert for the Navajo Nation from 1986 to 2013, Dr. Alan Downer created the first tribal program devoted to heritage preservation. He also launched the “Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Pilot Project,” which asked the Navajo people to identify specific places they wished to see preserved and why. Dr. Downer was instrumental in developing the concept of “traditional historic property” and in crafting the language of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Moreover, he played a key role in establishing a separate line item to support Tribal Historic Preservation Officers in the Historic Preservation Fund. In 1996, Dr. Downer was among the first Tribal Historic Preservation Officers approved by the Secretary of the Interior to assume the duties of the State Historic Preservation Officers on tribal lands.
Certified Local Government Category --Dana N. Sigmon, Community Development Director, City of Okmulgee, Oklahoma (retired)
Dana Sigmon devoted nearly a quarter century to local government service in Okmulgee, Oklahoma where she started in 1990, one year after the city’s designation as a Certified Local Government. She was soon promoted to Okmulgee Community Development Director, where her responsibilities included building inspection, planning and zoning matters, and historic preservation. As capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okmulgee has a rich Native American heritage that is augmented with an African American legacy; Dana and the local commission used Certified Local Government funds to share this diverse heritage with a broad audience. In 2009, the City of Okmulgee received the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Officer’s Citation of Merit for production of Preserving the Past, Preparing for the Future, a video that provides a brief history of the city, highlights its architecture and its preservation, and discusses the legal, financial, and other tools critical to Okmulgee’s successful downtown revitalization.
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