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Press Release

Ken Burns American Heritage Prize to be awarded to Dr. N. Scott Momaday

Presented by American Prairie Reserve in celebration of the indomitable American spirit

Jan. 7, 2019 / PRZen / BOZEMAN, Mont. -- American Prairie Reserve is proud to announce that Kiowa novelist, essayist, and poet N. Scott Momaday, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2019 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize. The award will be presented May 1, 2019, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The evening's festivities will include remarks by Ken Burns, Dr. N. Scott Momaday, Meryl Streep, the 2019 Chair of the National Jury Dawn Arnall, and American Prairie Reserve CEO Alison Fox.

Named in honor of America's most revered visual historian and filmmaker, the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize recognizes individuals whose achievements have advanced our collective understanding of America's heritage and the indomitable American spirit of our people. Nominees for the annual Prize consist of visionary artists, authors, educators, filmmakers, historians, and scientists. The candidates are chosen by a National Jury of distinguished leaders who represent communities across the country and share a common appreciation of America's heritage.

"It's a privilege to lend my name to a Prize honoring individuals whose accomplishments reinforce the nation's understanding of all that is possible. Scott Momaday has spent his life introducing the world to Native American culture through literature that has elevated our collective consciousness about what it means to be indigenous in the United States." – Ken Burns

Dr. Momaday is a Kiowa novelist, short-story writer, essayist and poet. His novel House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969, and is considered the first major work of the Native American Renaissance. Momaday was a founding Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, holds 21 honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the world and received the National Medal of Arts in 2007.

"I am truly honored to be named the recipient of the 2019 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize and left speechless by this recognition. The prairie is a landscape of great clarity and has had extraordinary meaning in my life. None of us lives apart from the land entirely and I am deeply concerned about conservation. I fully support American Prairie Reserve's remarkable and courageous effort to preserve a disappearing landscape that is sacred to so many Native Americans." – Dr. N. Scott Momaday

American Prairie Reserve, which created the Prize, is a modern-day embodiment of America's optimistic and boundless approach to accomplishing the unprecedented — in this case, by creating the largest nature reserve in the continental United States, located on the Great Plains of northeastern Montana.

About American Prairie Reserve
American Prairie Reserve's mission is to create the largest nature reserve in the continental United States, a spectacular refuge for people and wildlife preserved forever as part of America's heritage. When complete, the Reserve will be larger than Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks combined and will support all the animals that historically called the Great Plains home, including bison, wolves, bears, elk, deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, swift foxes, upland birds including the greater sage grouse, birds of prey and all manner of reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Already open to the public for recreation including camping, hunting, fishing, and birding, the Reserve offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime, horizon-expanding opportunity to reconnect with nature on a truly grand scale. Learn more at and

About Ken Burns
Ken Burns has been making documentary films for almost forty years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Mr. Burns has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The National Parks: America's Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; Defying the Nazis: The Sharp's War; The Vietnam War; and, most recently, The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science. His films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including sixteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Mr. Burns was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

About Dr. N. Scott Momaday
N. Scott Momaday, Ph.D., is a Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, poet, playwright, painter and photographer, storyteller, and professor of English and American literature. Born in Oklahoma, Dr. Momaday is a member of the Kiowa tribe and among his primary interests are Native American art and oral tradition. He received the National Medal of Arts "for his writings and his work that celebrate and preserve Native American art and oral tradition," and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his first novel, House Made of Dawn.

Dr. Momaday has been a commentator of National Public Radio, the voice of the National Museum of the American Indian of the Smithsonian Institution, the narrator of PBS documentaries including Remembered Earth and Last Stand at Little Bighorn, and a featured on-camera commentator on the PBS series The West produced by Ken Burns and directed by Stephen Ives.

A Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, the Premio Letterario Internazionale "Mondello," Italy's highest literary award, The Saint Louis Literary Award, the Premio Fronterizo, the highest award of the Border Book Festival, the 2008 Oklahoma Humanities Award, and the 2003 Autry Center for the American West Humanities Award are among the many honors bestowed upon Dr. Momaday. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds 21 honorary doctoral degrees from American and European colleges and universities. Dr. Momaday is a retired professor of English and American Literature and earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Media Contact
Beth Saboe

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