SOULA receives national recognition

SOULA receives national recognition

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) has received an award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) for SOULA’s collaborative work with other agencies on the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project – a wide-ranging effort to research and document the lives of Oregon’s early Chinese immigrants.

SOULA and other entities collaborating in the diaspora project received the National Trust/Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Award for Federal Partnerships in Historic Preservation during the NTHP’s recent PastForward Conference in Washington, D.C. The NTHP is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save historic places nationwide, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent federal agency; the two entities partner in presenting the Federal Partnerships award.

SOULA works on the ongoing project with agencies including the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Malheur National Forest, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland Chinatown Museum.

Researchers are using local history and public archaeology to challenge dated stereotypes and highlight the transnational lives of the Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans that helped establish the early infrastructure and economic industries of Oregon. The project has included digging, interpreting and touring of numerous archaeological sites around the state where Chinese immigrants worked and lived, and researching censuses and community records.

The NTHP award honors outstanding partnerships that advance the preservation of important historic resources and have a positive impact on the community. It celebrates a project or program in which a federal agency and one or more nonfederal partners have achieved an exemplary preservation outcome.

“We are pleased to recognize the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project for their collaborative, multi-agency grassroots effort to uplift the underrepresented role of Chinese Oregonians in the region’s history,” ACHP Chair Sara Bronin said. “This project can serve as a model as we prioritize telling the full story of American history through preservation of historic places.”

The NTHP award was the second prestigious recognition for the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project in a little over a year – it received a national Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in June 2022, as part of that organization’s Leadership in History Awards.

“The Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project is thrilled to have our work nationally recognized,” SOULA Director Chelsea Rose said. “What began as a small, grass-roots collaboration now spans the state and is enriching our collective history by re-entering the important roles that Chinese Oregonians had in the settlement and development of the region.

“This (NTHP) award not only helps us continue to do this work, but will hopefully inspire others to work together, pool resources and seek out the important stories that have been lost or erased over time.”

The Federal Partnerships award was one of nine awards presented at this year’s PastForward conference to honor those who excel in preservation.