Museum Curator, Don Merritt-ever since I could remember, I have had a passion for western history, even through college.

What I like about Kam Wah Chung is not only what we have already learned about this national treasure with the unique archival written histories and documents and unique items in the Kam Wah Chung building, but what we have yet to learn.  The archaeological potential to add more to the story of the local Chinese history in John Day and to the Chinese experience in the west is quite exciting!

I began working for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department on January 3, 2017.  I moved here from Utah, but lived in the west in six states most of my adult life. I have one brother, Chris, who lives in Salt Lake City, UT and is the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). I live with my 88 year old grandmother Luella.

I graduated from the University of Montana in 2006 with a BS in Wildlife Biology and in 2010 from the University of Montana with a Master Degree in Archaeology.  After graduation, I worked for cultural resource management firms, state, and federal agencies throughout the west.  I then took a job working for Utah State Parks as the museum curator and Utah State Park’s archaeologist at Fremont Indian State Park in 2014. 

I worked on some very interesting archaeological projects and surveys during the last 14 years.  I helped work on listing a segment of the California-Mormon-Pony Express Trail in Utah, one of the most complete and intact segments in the state which included two camping sites previously unknown.  I also helped survey and record portions of the Rosebud Battlefield near the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana.   My thesis was the archaeology and history of Fort Owen in southwest Montana, which I am currently writing a book about.  But most importantly, I helped my brother Chris Merritt on his PhD dissertation on The Chinese of Montana, for which I gained the most knowledge on Chinese artifacts.