NESPELEM, WA--Michael O. Finley, Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, recently received the Cecil Dryden Alumni Award from Eastern Washington University’s History Department. The annual award is given to a distinguished graduate in History at EWU. Finley, who received his Master’s Degree in History from Eastern, was presented the award at a luncheon held on the Cheney, WA, campus.
“The Cecil Dryden Award is given to recognize outstanding accomplishments in both scholarship and service,” Dr. Bill Youngs, Chairman of the History Department, said today. “Michael Finley was an easy choice for us. Not only is he a distinguished author, but the leader of Colville Tribes. It was a great pleasure to present this award to Michael.”
Chairman Finley is co-author of Finding Chief Kamiakin: The Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot (2008),
written with Richard D. Scheuerman, a professor in Seattle University’s Graduate School of Education. Earlier this month, Chairman Finley and Dr. Scheuerman were presented with the Washington Historical Society’s “Charles Gates Award,” for their Pacific Northwest Quarterly
article, “Chief Cleveland Kamiakin and 20th-Century Political Change on the Colville Reservation.”
Youngs said that Chairman Finley wrote his Master’s Thesis at EWU under his direction, “and his thesis was one of the best I’ve ever directed in my 38 years at Eastern.”
“I am very honored to receive the Cecil Dryden award,” Finley said today. “I want thank all those at Eastern, including Dr. Youngs and Dr. Deirdre Almeida , Director the American Indian Studies Program there, for their encouragement and support of my work at the University and since I’ve come back to the Colville Reservation.”
Dr. Almeida, on behalf of the American Indian Studies Program, presented Chairman Finley with a Pendleton Blanket at the awards luncheon.
“I worked with Michael when he was both an undergrad and a graduate student here and had an opportunity to serve on his Master’s thesis committee,” Dr. Almeida said today. “Even as an undergraduate student he distinguished himself for his academic achievements and professional manner. He has always been supportive of this program when he was here as a student, and that continues now that he has moved on.”
Dr. Almeida said that Chairman Finley has “always made himself available to our program and our students. Every year we put on American Indian Student Day when we bring junior and senior high school here to get them thinking about going to college. Michael came to speak to them one year, and he has been the favorite of all our speakers. He had a big impact on our students.”
Finley, 32, grew up on the Colville Reservation and earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Spokane Community College in 2001. He has a both Bachelor’s Degree in American Indian Studies and a Masters Degree in History from Eastern.
“I have had wonderful opportunities to learn and to serve the Colville people, and I am grateful for these,” Finley said. “I hope that all our young people have the chance to achieve their highest potentials, to realize their dreams. Getting a good education is important, not just to ‘success’ in material terms, but to a greater understanding of others and of ourselves.”
Finley served as Vice-Chairman of the Colville Business Council in 2008-2009, and was elected by his fellow Council members as Chairman in July of 2009. At 30, he was the youngest Chairman ever to be elected by the Colville Tribes. In 2010 he was re-elected to a second term as Chairman.