About the Award

Danish American Frontier Award

The Danish American Frontier Award is the most prestigious honor awarded by the Danish American community in the western United States.

 

The DAF Award is presented to a person or group of persons who have distinguished themselves by their actions, exploration or presence in areas of leadership, business, commerce, service, science, technology, invention, arts or humanitarian ventures. The recipient will have exhibited daring curiosity in their pursuits, often standing alone for their convictions, while maintaining integrity throughout their enterprise.

 

The DAF Award celebrates the pioneer spirit with which Danish-Americans have explored, and are still exploring the boundaries of themselves, their enterprise and their world today and actively shape the world of the future.

 

The recipient is honored with a statuette depicting Peter Lassen, one of the most important of early Danish-American pioneers and frontiersmen. The statuette is a work of art by the renowned sculptor Dennis Smith, whose works have become national treasures located throughout the United States and many other countries, including Denmark where Dennis traces his heritage and a statue of his grandmother Kristina stands on Amerika Kaj in Copenhagen.

 

About Peter Lassen

Peter Lassen was born in Farum, Denmark on October 31, 1800, and while he did not arrive in America until he was 30, the early days of California's history would become closely linked to Peter Lassen as a legendary pioneer, as an explorer of the wild country, trailblazer and as settlor and cultivator.

 

He was a restless entrepreneur. He built the first saw-mill in California. He mapped the earliest trails and helped immigrants into California where he build several communities and helped pave the way to what would become San Francisco. Among Peter Lassen's friends were Johan Sutter, John Bidwell, and Kit Carson, but he befriended all people and everyone regardless of stature, color or creed were welcome in his home. The Indians called him Uncle Peter and that was his preferred title.

 

He was a generous helpful man to all he encountered, but he loved the magnificent nature of California the most, and his last day, the 26th of April 1849, he was killed while exploring northern California. A few decades later John Muir would come to California and profoundly shape our understanding of our natural wonders.

 

To this day, the largest land area named after a Dane outside of Denmark is named after Peter Lassen. The Lassen County, Lassen National Volcanic Park and Lassen Peak (Mount Lassen, the largest plug dome volcano in the world) stand as monuments to this first California Naturalist.