Media Relations

National Cowboy Museum Announces Wrangler Award Winners of the 49th Annual Western Heritage Awards

Mar 01, 2010

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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Contact: Shayla Simpson – Director of PR & Museum Events
Phone: (405) 478-2250, Ext. 221
Fax: (405) 478-4714
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — For the 49th time, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum announces the Western Heritage Awards. The awards honor and encourage the legacy of those whose works in literature, music, film and television reflect the significant stories of the American West.
The Western Heritage Awards are presented at a black-tie banquet at the Museum, set for April 17, 2010. Each winner in attendance receives a Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback. Awards presented in 2010 are for works completed in 2009. Qualified professionals outside the Museum staff judge all categories. Qualified professionals outside the Museum staff judge all categories
Literary Awards
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 The Sundown Chaser by Dusty Richards and published by Berkley Books Penguin Group. Richards, an award-winning writer, crafts another winner with the story of two men, bond by blood but torn apart by the law. Ex-rancher and new Yellowstone County, Montana Sheriff Herschel Baker has cleaned up the badlands but now faces a deadly puzzle. Herschel thinks his hands are full with this new case. But life is about to get more complicated with a horse thief riding up from Mexico, leaving a trail of dead bodies, bringing a woman on the run, and a hand as quick as Herschel’s. This isn’t just any outlaw — it’s Herschel’s dad.
Elliott West takes the Wrangler for Outstanding Nonfiction Book The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story published by Oxford University Press. West, a professor of American history at the University of Arkansas, details the conflict between the Nez Perce Indians and the U.S. Government, with insight into the story of race, warfare, land and greed.
The book chronicles the early history of the Nez Perce and the years of friendly relations with white settlers. He describes their homeland, which stretched from what is now Washington State to the continental divide, as some of the best land in the American West and how discovery of gold brought more white settlements. West tells the story from many points of view including cavalrymen, officers, politicians and of course, the Nez Perce. The book recounts the flight of 800 Nez Perces, with many elderly, women and children, across 1,500 miles of mountainous terrain toward Canada, with details of battles, unexpected turns and heroism.
The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell: A Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture lands the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Art Book. Written by Joan Carpenter Troccoli and published by the University of Oklahoma Press the book focuses on many of the artist's best-known works and the artist’s evolution.
The volume boasts full-color reproductions showcasing more than 150 of Russell's finest works in oil, bronze and mixed media. Examples of his drawings, watercolors and illustrated letters as well as archival photographs help provide historic context to Russell's paintings and sculpture.
Troccoli, a senior scholar at the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, Denver Art Museum, has crafted a must-have addition for every Western art lover. Readers will discover the work of a man whose vision of the American West continues to touch viewers’ souls nearly a 100 years after his death.
Craig Varjabedian’s fascinating photographs of the red cliffs and sweeping plains of the Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico has earned him the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book. Published by the University of New Mexico Press, Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby captures the essence of the 21,000 acre ranch in more than 90 new black-and-white photographs.
Additionally, Varjabedian collected essays to complement his photographs, including one written by Georgia O'Keeffe, the famed 20th century artist. There also is an introduction by photographer Jay Packer, an essay by writer Marin Sardy explaining the ranch's natural features and social history, and essays by theological studies professor Belden C. Lane, arts writer Douglas A. Fairfield and former Ghost Ranch executive director Rob Craig.
Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams is the Outstanding Juvenile Book. The novel, published by McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, tells the story of Cam O’Mara, grandson and younger brother to championship bull riders. Cam is more interested in skateboarding and focuses on making his tricks perfect — that is until his older brother Ben comes home from the war — paralyzed. 
Williams, a former elementary school teacher, writes a moving story of one family’s struggle to live with the life changing effect of war and injury. Cam promises Ben to carry on the family tradition of bull riding if Ben promises not to give up. Will 8 seconds and $15,000 help the family heal? Find out in Williams’ book written for grades 7 through 10.
Writer John H. Monnett takes top honors for Outstanding Magazine Article with “ ‘My Heart Now Has Become Changed to Softer Feelings,’ A Northern Cheyenne Woman and Her Family Remember the Long Journey Home” published in Montana, The Magazine of Western History.
A professor of history at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Monnett recounts Iron Teeth’s journey from Indian Territory to the Northern Cheyenne’s homelands on the northern plains in 1877. This rare glimpse of history is told from the perspective of a woman, who lost her way of life, her husband and son, as she attempts to reclaim a way of life or die trying.
The Outstanding Poetry book winner is Work Is Love Made Visible by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish and published by West End Press.
This book of poems and family photographs tell the story of this Oklahoma author who returned home after 20 years travelling. She writes from the heart with intelligence and love. Mish’s small treasure sprinkled with wisdom, heartache, determination and stunning images speaks volumes.
Western Music
The Western Heritage Music competition includes three music categories: new artist, original composition and traditional Western album.
Steve Moulton is the 2009 Outstanding New Artist with his album “Cowboys & Campfires.” This award is given to someone in the first five years of their career, who has never received a Wrangler in an individual category and is striving to continue to produce music of the Western genre. When Moulton isn’t ranching or building custom furniture, he entertains weekly at the A Bar A Guest Ranch, near Encampment, Wyoming. He sings and plays both mandolin and guitar and serves as president of the Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering, performs there and also at the Heber City Cowboy Gathering. Moulton’s first CD includes his original song, “Steamboat,” a musical story of the great Wyoming bucking horse. His great grandfather, Guy Holt, is one of the few cowboys to ride the horse.
“The Great Western Trail” by LeRoy Jones, produced by Dave Copenhaver, Terry Scarberry and LeRoy Jones, wins for Outstanding Original Composition. Off the album “Looking Back,” the song tells the tale of a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas and conjures up memories of the old West. The entire album combines authentic Western music with song about gathering, branding, letters home and the dangers of trail life.
In the category for Outstanding Traditional Western Album, the top honors go to “Welcome to the Tribe,” recorded by Andy Wilkinson and Andy Hedges and produced by Lloyd Maines and Andy Wilkinson. This new album joins singers/songwriters Wilkinson and Hedges and the combination results in a classic Western album. Both Andys are poets, songwriters and performers — making this album inspirational. This CD offers a mix of classic songs with new arrangements and a fresh set of original music. Make sure to read the liner notes which add meaning to each of the melodies.
Film and Television
Six categories comprise the film and television awards. They include theatrical motion picture, television feature film, docudrama, documentary, television news feature and fictional drama. This year, awards are being presented in only three categories.
The Outstanding Docudrama is “Cowboys & Outlaws: The Real Wyatt Earp” by Half Yard Productions. Written and directed by Pip Gilmour and produced by Sean Gallagher, Abby Greensfelder and Paul Cabana this dramatization is one of six episodes in the "Cowboys & Outlaws” series, produced by Ann Carroll, which separates fable and fact. Through the talents of Thadd Turner, Bob Boze Bell, Sherry Monahan and Paul Hutton “The Real Wyatt Earp” explores the complex character of a man who knew both sides of the law. Defending law and order, Earp rarely used his gun until his younger brother was shot. That event forever changed him and set him on a bloody vendetta.
                “Born to Ride: Cody Wright and the Quest for a World Title” is the Outstanding Documentary, Contemporary. Hold on for the ride of your life as Cody Wright travels the rodeo circuit on his quest to win the 2008 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Saddle Bronc World Championship. The father of four had been to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo five times and still the title escaped his capture. Follow the bittersweet chase which pits Wright against his boyhood hero Billy Etbauer, one of the greatest saddle bronc riders ever. The documentary is by SUTV, Southern Utah University, produced by Jon Smith, written and directed by Lyman Hafen and narrated by Wilford Brimley. It chronicles Wright’s journey from boyhood to his rise among top saddle bronc riders in the PRCA.
Wyoming PBS produced the Outstanding Documentary, Historical, “She Wrote ‘My Friend Flicka.’ ” Directed by Letitia C. Langord and produced by Rudy Calvert and Kyle Nicholoff this documentary is a firsthand account of Mary O’Hara’s life, including the accomplishments and heartbreak. It is a must-see for anyone who ever read O’Hara’s classic My Friend Flicka, wondered how she did it and how life was for this best-selling author. Viewers need to pay attention to the soundtrack of the documentary as O’Hara was multi-talented and all the music was composed by her.  
The 2010 Western Heritage Awards is presented by the National Rifle Association of America. Major sponsors of the event are Conoco Phillips, Stetson Hats and Wrangler along with supporting sponsors Republic National Distributing Company. Additional support provided from Museum Partners Devon Energy Corporation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation and Major Museum Support from The Oklahoman.
The Western Heritage Awards are open to the public and reservations can be secures by calling
(405) 478-2250, Ext. 219. Ticket prices for Friday night’s Jingle-Jangle Mingle are Nonmembers $35 and Member $25. The Western Heritage Awards banquet ticket prices are Nonmembers $150 and Members $130.
The National Cowboy Museum, America's Premier Western Heritage Museum™, is supported through memberships and private and corporate donations. The Museum offers annual memberships that include year-round admission for six people, subscription to the award-winning, quarterly publication Persimmon Hill and discounts for events and at The Museum Store. Nationally accredited, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District at the junction of I-44 and I-35. For more information about the Museum or for a calendar of events, visit or call (405) 478-2250.

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