Two Fort Hays State University alumni publish award-winning book

10/22/12 ema

HAYS, Kan. -- Two Fort Hays State University alumni co-wrote "The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory," which was awarded the 2012 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize by the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska.

Dr. James Leiker, associate professor of history at Johnson County Community College, graduated from FHSU in 1984 and 1992. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. Leiker's previous book, "Radial Borders, Black Soldiers Along the Rio Grande," was published in 2002.

Dr. Ramon Powers, formerly the executive director of the Kansas State Historical Society and Kansas State Historian, retired in 2002. Powers earned degrees from FHSU in 1961 and 1963 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. He is the author of numerous articles on Plains Indian history.

Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, their study chronicles the removal of the Northern Cheyenne to Indian Territory and the escape of 353 tribesmen in a desperate attempt to return to their northern plains homeland.

Leiker and Powers recount the epic story of the escape. They explain why the trip, marked by bloody confrontations in western Kansas, was not simply a tale of right and wrong as depicted in popular culture.

The authors examine the recollections of Indians, settlers and their descendants to see how they recount these events and why.

In addition to receiving the Center for Great Plains Studies award, their book was selected as one of the 15 Notable Kansas Books published within the previous year.

"Both Leiker and Powers are great examples of the productivity and commitment to excellence demonstrated by quite a few of our history alumni," said Dr. Juti Winchester, assistant professor of history at FHSU.

Each spring, the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize is awarded to the most significant book devoted to a broad consideration of the Great Plains, whatever its disciplinary perspective. It was created to emphasize the interdisciplinary importance of the Great Plains in today's publishing and educational market.

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