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Jimmy Chin awarded 2022 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize

NEW YORK, NY — Professional mountain sports athlete, National Geographic photographer, Academy® Award-winning film director, and New York Times Best Selling author Jimmy Chin accepted the 2022 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize at an event held on May 4 at the American Museum of Natural History.

Named in honor of America’s most revered visual historian and documentary filmmaker, the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize recognizes an individual whose body of work has advanced our collective understanding of the indomitable American spirit.

Film actor Peter Coyote set the stage for Ken Burns by underscoring the relationship between the famed filmmaker and the Montana-based conservation organization: “As citizens, as parents, as friends, a key responsibility is to provide an environment where lives can flourish and be healthy. What better way to show respect for one another than to show respect for the land that nurtured us? This is American Prairie.” Mr. Coyote went on say, “Ken understands the sacred trust in telling the American story, as does American Prairie, which has so rightfully named their award for him.”

Jimmy Chin is known for his ability to capture extraordinary imagery and stories while climbing and skiing in extremely high-risk environments and expeditions. Mr. Burns welcomed him by noting that, “At the core of his record- and precedent-setting accomplishments is an unwavering commitment to explore the diverse, awe-inspiring, and extreme landscapes of this planet and to share them with the world.” The filmmaker went on to say, “And keep in mind, that when you’re seeing these climbers and skiers accomplishing these astonishing feats, Jimmy is right there with them filming. Jimmy is interested in making films about people who embody the indominable American spirit – people who act with boldness, audacity, and perseverance.”

After receiving the bison bronze, Mr. Chin said, “It is truly, truly an honor to be here with all of you,” and thanked Mr. Burns by saying, “It is just incredible to receive this award from you, Ken. Your work has long been an inspiration and motivation for me.” He also thanked his best friend, mentor, and fellow mountaineer Conrad Anker for attending by saying, “I am, in large part, here today due to you and that is not an overstatement.”

Mr. Chin thanked his family and said his two young children are his motivation for fighting to preserve the environment and the world’s last wild places. “My work takes me to uncommon places, and all of them are imbued with a spirit of adventure. American Prairie is exactly that: in the 21st century, a huge, open grassland in the Great Plains is uncommon. And the dedicated work to create such a preserve is an adventure in the greatest sense.”

Mr. Chin grew up in Minnesota and said his parents were responsible for introducing him to the great outdoors, and a childhood trip to Glacier National Park ignited his desire for climbing and exploration. He joked, “They probably regretted that. My father would say, the Chinese language is thousands of years old, and there is no word in Chinese for what you do.”

Mr. Chin received the honor from Mr. Burns and American Prairie’s National Board of Directors Chair George Matelich. The evening’s festivities included remarks by American Prairie’s CEO Alison Fox and Mr. Matelich.

Jimmy Chin receives an American bison bronze as the recipient of the 2022 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize.