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2007 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Awardee: Roberta (Bobbie) Conner

Roberta (Bobbie) Conner
Roberta Conner (photo: courtesy Tamástslikt Cultural Institute). Download a hi-res image: right-click here and select Save As (2.1mb JPG)

"Culture brings us together. Culture reflects our values. It's what we hold closest to our hearts and cling to in times of need."
     —Roberta Conner

Roberta Conner is the honored recipient of the 2007 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for her work representing the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) as a community and national leader, museum director, curator, speaker and author. She is an enrolled member of the CTUIR and her ancestry is Umatilla, Cayuse and Nez Perce. Conner currently resides in Pendleton, Oregon.

Since 1998, Conner has served as the Director of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, which preserves, protects and promotes the culture of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla. This facility houses an interpretive center, library, photo archive, gallery and theater. Conner assisted with curation of the Many Nations Many Voices exhibit. From 2003 to 2006, the exhibit appeared at numerous venues including the University of Virginia, American Academy of Sciences, Denver Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Oregon Historical Society.

Conner is a well-published writer and lecturer on cultural preservation issues. Her idea to hold convocations of tribal elders, tribal and non-Indian scholars and tribal students resulted in a new tribal history book and the development of a Sahaptian language place names atlas that is due out in 2008. Conner also mentors young scholars who are interested in tribal cultural preservation by developing opportunities for them to work with well-known historians and authors on Tamástslikt projects.

Conner currently serves on the board of the Wallowa Homeland Project and the Oregon Cultural Trust as a special advisor for tribal issues. She also served as Vice-President of the National Council of the Lewis &Clark Bicentennial Board of Directors. She has previously served on numerous Boards and committees including the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission (2000 to 2004); Oregon Council for the Humanities Board (2000 to 2001) and the Governors Task Force for Cultural Development, Oregon (2000 to 2001).

From 1977 to 1982, Conner provided technical assistance to Indian education grantees in the Pacific Northwest for the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in Seattle. She worked for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) from 1984 to 1997 in Denver and Sacramento as a Presidential Management Intern, Branch Manager and District Director.

In 1997, Conner came home and served as Tamástslikt's Chief Operating Officer. In this role, she also served as a liaison to the Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network, Crow's Shadow Art Institute and the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center. Conner also worked to set-up a business service center.

Conner attended the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1977. She also received a Master of Management in 1984 from the Atkinson Graduate School at Willamette University.


2007 Honorees

Roberta (Bobbie) Conner

Carol Craig

Alfred (Bud) Lane III

Lillian Moyer

Michael Pavel, Ph.D.


Learn More

Roberta (Bobbie) Conner Bio (80kb pdf)

Roberta Conner Presentation on Leadership for Award Ceremony (1.5mb pdf)

Native America Calling: Indigenous Leadership program featuring Roberta Conner & Liz Woody
(38mb mp3 download)

Hallie Ford Museum of Art Exhibition Selected for Oregon American Masterpieces Grant

Wiyaxayxt / Wiyaakaa'awn / As Days Go By: Our History, Our Land, Our People-The Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla
Roberta Conner (Contributor)

Tamástslikt director wins indigenous leadership prize (5.2mb pdf)
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, September 27, 2007

Conner wins Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for leadership
Confederated Umatilla Journal, October 2007 (420kb pdf)

Tamastslikt director wins national award
The East Oregonian, October 14, 2007

Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award money to be used for cultural projects
Indian Country Today, November 26, 2007

'We have had to learn how to be interpreters of our own culture'
The Daily Astorian, March 26, 2008

Native Perspectives on Sustainability
Interview with Bobbie Conner for dissertation by David Hall, Ph.D.


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
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Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


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