OKLAHOMA CITY— America’s premier Western Museum, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, celebrates its 52nd anniversary with the announcement of the Western Heritage Award winners in literature, music, film and television. The awards given April 20, 2013, reflect the significant stories of the American West. Additionally, each honoree receives a Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback and is presented for works completed in 2012. Qualified professionals, outside of the Museum staff, judge all categories.
There are seven categories in the literary competition. They include Western novel, nonfiction book, art book, photography book, juvenile book, magazine article and poetry book.
The Outstanding Western Novel is Unbroke Horses by D.B. Jackson, published by Goldminds Publishing. Three Civil War deserters, dispossessed of all virtue, kidnap a young boy with the sole purpose of conscripting him into their degenerate band of misfits. Tethered about the neck with a rawhide lace, the boy’s survival depends upon his ability to adapt to their malevolent ways, a lesson he learns quickly. The boy’s life, cast into darkness and evil, promises no chance for salvation. His single opportunity for redemption may lie with an old Indian horse trainer and a small band of “unbroke” horses.
Robert M. Utley wins the Wrangler for Outstanding Nonfiction Book Geronimo published by Yale University Press. A thoroughly researched biography by a renowned historian of the American West, Utley strips away the myths and rumors that have long obscured the real Geronimo and presents an authentic portrait of a man with unique strength and weaknesses and a destiny that swept him into the fierce storms of history.
Bob Kuhn: Drawing on Instinct, edited by Adam Duncan Harris, is named the Outstanding Art Book. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, the book was created by the National Museum of Wildlife Art to accompany an exhibit of the same name. Wildlife artist Robert Kuhn (1920–2007) spent a lifetime sketching and painting animals and generously mentoring other artists. This book offers a compelling blend of the artist’s finished paintings and finest sketches along with various perspectives on the artist's career. The lavishly illustrated volume is sure to further establish Bob Kuhn’s place in the pantheon of late-20th-century American artists.
Rich Clarkson and James C. McNutt collaborated with National Geographic photo editors on National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West earning them the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book, published by National Geographic Books. Divided into four chapters—Legends, Encounters, Boundaries and Visions—renowned National Geographic photography, past and present, brings the magic and the mystery of the American West alive through the best of its collection. From red-rock waves of stone to rugged snow-capped mountains, from ghost towns to prairie dog towns, from cowboys to wild horses, the book captures it all in spectacular color photography augmented by periodic archival photographs. The photographs weave together a visual tapestry of this rich, varied and enduring landscape that is the American West.
The Quilt Walk is the Outstanding Juvenile Book written by Sandra Dallas. The novel, published by Sleeping Bear Press, is a story based in 1864. Emily Blue Hatchett has been told by her father that, come spring, their family will leave their farm, family and friends in Illinois and travel to their new home in Colorado. When Emmy’s grandmother comes to say goodbye, she gives Emmy a special gift, something to occupy her time along the trip. The journey by wagon trail is long and full of hardships, and Emmy’s experiences along the way bring the period of westward expansion, as well as issues facing women, to life for young readers.
Writer Jim Logan takes top honors for Outstanding Magazine Article with "The Other Trail," published in Oklahoma Today. Published in March/April 2012, Logan tells the 19th-century story of cowboys who drove countless herds to new markets hungry for beef. These drives—arduous, grueling and dangerous—came to symbolize the romance of the old West. One epic route in far western Oklahoma saw more cattle traverse its path than any other, including the Chisholm Trail.
The Outstanding Poetry book winner is Proclaiming Space by John Dofflemyer and published by Dry Crik Press. Dofflemyer has poetic perspective derived from a life of raising cattle on the same landscape as generations of family before him. This poet offers a personal glimpse of this relationship with the natural world, both wild and domestic; of life, death and politics from the distance of Dry Creek, a tributary of the Kaweah River in the southern Sierra Nevada range of California.
The Western Heritage Music competition includes three music categories: new horizons, original composition and traditional Western album.