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BYU professor's William Clark bio earns national honors

A Brigham Young University professor who blazed new trails with his book “William Clark: Indian Diplomat” recently earned the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s Meritorious Achievement Award.

Jay Buckley, an associate professor of history in the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences at BYU, received the award from the 2,000-member historical society for his work, considered a significant scholarly contribution to the corpus of Lewis and Clark Expedition history when it was published in 2008.

Buckley’s William Clark biography also garnered two additional awards last year. The State Historical Society of Missouri awarded it the 2009 Eagleton-Waters Book Award and the 2009 Missouri History Book Award, the first time one book has received both awards.

Buckley also contributed to “By His Own Hand: The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis” edited by John D. W. Guice.

“Researching and writing about Lewis’ death and Clark’s life has been a wonderful opportunity to learn about their expedition and its ramifications,” Buckley said. “But Clark’s real significance was when he got home from the trip — when he became diplomat to the Indians. It is ironic that no one had written about this. I hope I did him justice by filling in the gaps.”

Through his student mentoring at BYU and guest editing of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s publication “We Proceeded On,” Buckley has helped five BYU students publish in that journal: Nicholas Gentile, Brenden Rensink and Clifford Strieby in May 2010; and Rachel Barnard and Ryan Badger in November 2010.

Buckley joined the BYU History Department in fall 2001. He teaches American West and American Indian history courses and directs the Native American Studies minor. His specialties include Lewis and Clark, exploration and migration, Indian-white relations, fur trade and other Western themes. Buckley was recognized with the Charles Redd Center’s Mollie and Karl G. Butler Young Scholar Award in Western Studies in 2006.

The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation is an internationally based organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The group bestows only one award a year.

For more information, contact Jay Buckley at (801) 422-0275 or, or visit


Writer: Philip Volmar

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