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Each year one exceptional awardee is chosen to receive the Colorado Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. First presented in 2003, the award recognizes a “project or person that exemplifies the best in historic preservation, in honoring historic design and craftsmanship, and in adhering to proper preservation techniques and ethics.” 

Curtis received the 2014 award for his direction of The Wickiup Project, administered by Dominquez Archaeological Research Group of Grand Junction, at an award ceremony held at the History Colorado Museum in Denver. The award was shared with members of all three Ute tribes, the National Park Service, History Colorado, and the Bureau of Land Management. Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia presented the award. 

The ongoing 20+ year research project, with the support of the National Park Service, Forest Service, State Historical Fund of Colorado, Bureau of Land Management, and the Ute Tribes, conducts comprehensive documentation of rapidly disappearing Native American wooden features, including tipi-like shelters known as wickiups, and associated Euroamerican trade goods. The project has provided insights into the final years of the autonomous, off-reservation Ute Indians, with many of the archaeological sites dating to after the so-called ‘final removal’ of the People to Utah in 1881. 

“It’s a privilege and honor to…be notified that this project was chosen for the Governor’s Award,” expressed Manuel Heart, chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. “We’re the oldest living residents, the Ute people. Our ancestors have come a long way, and today we still have a ways to go. Preservation is key to who we are and where we come from.”

Curtis (front row, third from right) receiving the Colorado Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation for the Wickiup Project.