America’s premier Western museum, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, celebrates its 51st anniversary with the announcement of the Western Heritage Award winners in literature, music, film and television. Give April 21, the awards reflect the significant stories of the American West.
Earlier this month, the museum announced that actors Bruce Boxleitner and the late Fess Parker; animal scientist, best-selling author and austism advocate Temple Grandin; the late historian and author Walter Prescott Webb; and the late spur maker and cowboy Jerry Cates will be celebrated at the 51st anniversary Western Heritage Awards next month at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Each honoree receives a Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback. Awards presented in 2012 are for works completed in 2011. Qualified professionals outside the museum staff judge all categories.
A black-tie event, the Western Heritage Awards are open to the public.
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.
“Milagro of the Spanish Bean Pot” is the Outstanding Juvenile Book written by Emerita Romero-Anderson and illustrated by Randall Pijoan. The novel, published by Texas Tech University Press, is a story based in 1790, in a tiny Spanish Colonial Village, in the Kingdom of New Mexico, where pottery is as crucial to starving villagers as the rains that might save their scorched bean fields. But Native potters are sending their wares south to markets in Chihuahua. When his widowed mother’s only bean pot cracks, 11-year-old Raymundo knows his family’s last hope lies with Clay Woman, a Genizaro outcast and quite possibly a powerful witch. In addition to drought and famine, Raymundo faces the return of Comanche raiders and his mother’s f ailing health as he risks all to learn Clay Woman’s secrets. Even as he prays for a miracle, he knows he must summon the courage to save his family—and his people.
The Outstanding Western Novel is “rode” by Thomas Fox Averill, published by University of New Mexico Press. This novel captures the spirit of the Jimmy Driftwood’s ballad “Tennessee Stud.” As Averill began to imagine the story behind the lyrics, he set out to research the song’s history while telling the story of Robert Johnson, a man who holds love in his heart although adventure rules his time. Pursued by a bounty hunter, Indians and his conscience, both he and his horse are tested and emerge triumphant.
Paul L. Hedren wins the Wrangler for Outstanding Nonfiction Book “After Custer: Loss and Transformation in Sioux Country,” published by University of Oklahoma Press. Hedren crafts a sweeping narrative of the Great Sioux War and its aftermath. Between 1876 and 1877, the U.S. Army battled Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indians in a costly war with consequences that played out for decades. This is a story about generals and the deployment of their army, a new transcontinental railroad, buffalo, cattle and mostly the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne, as each contended with a new order in Sioux Country. Hedren is the first scholar to examine the events of that time period and their aftermath as a whole.
“The Eugene B. Adkins Collection: Selected Works” is named Outstanding Art Book. Contributions are made by Jane Ford Aebersold, Christina E. Burke, James Peck, B. Byron Price, W. Jackson Rushing III, Mary Jo Watson and Mark A. White and published by University of Oklahoma Press. The book focuses on the art collection of Eugene B. Adkins, a native of Tulsa who spent nearly four decades acquiring his extraordinary collection of Native American and American Southwest art. His vast assemblage includes paintings, photographs, jewelry, baskets, textiles and ceramics by many of the region’s most renowned artists and artisans. This volume features full-color reproductions of the works, some of which are reproduced in the book for the first time. The Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa are joint stewards of the collection.
J. Don Cook reveals the spirit of the people of Oklahoma in his book “Shooting from the Hip: Photographs and Essays,” earning him the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Cook’s black-and-white photographs and 50 short essays portray Oklahoma’s people, animals, lifestyles, landscapes and weather in all their diversity. Cowboys, kids, tornados, trucks, rattlesnakes, fiddlers—readers see them all, and through his poignant essays, he brings a greater depth of understanding.
Writer and historian Louis Kraft takes top honors for Outstanding Magazine Article with “When Wynkoop Was Sheriff,” published in Wild West Magazine/Weider History Group. Wynkoop is best known for protesting the actions of Colorado soldiers at Sand Creek in 1864, but there was more to him than just words for the tragedy changed him from a racially prejudiced person to someone who accepted people of another race as humans. Many of his contemporaries damned his views, but Wynkoop devoted the rest of his career as a soldier and then as a U.S. Indian agent to helping Cheyennes and Arapahos to survive. A few years before Wynkoop stood up for Indian rights he made friends and enemies while enforcing the law around Denver.
The Outstanding Poetry book winner is “Married Into It” by Patricia Frolander and published by High Plains Press. Frolander has a passion for her family, ranching and writing. Her first book, Grassland Genealogy, was published in numerous anthologies, including “American Life in Poetry” (Column 275) by Ted Kooser, former U.S. Poet Laureate. She has been a recipient of many awards and has been featured in journals, magazines and newspapers. Most recently, Frolander was named Poet Laureate of Wyoming.
The Western Heritage Music competition includes three music categories: new artist, original composition and traditional Western album. This year awards are being presented in two categories.
“Keep the Campfire A Burnin” by R.J. Vandygriff, produced by Ronny Light, wins for Outstanding Original Composition. “Keep the Campfire A Burnin” was written by Vandygriff in hopes that his grandsons could look at the Code of the West and have a better understanding of who he is as a person. “I hope they too live by the Code and think it’s worth passing on to their children and ultimately do their part to ‘Keep the Campfire A Burnin’ and to keep the cowboy code alive,” he said.
In the category for Outstanding Traditional Western Album, the top honors go to “Dan Roberts: The Best Of (Vol. 1)” recorded by Dan Roberts and produced by Roberts and Tommy Allsup. The album is dedicated to Lyle Sankey, a saddle bronc and bull rider. “Lyle gave me the chance to experience the fast pace, live on the razors edge, laugh in the face of danger world of pro rodeo,” said Roberts. “Going down the rodeo trail with a man of his integrity, work ethic, generosity, humor, riding ability, professionalism and faith has shaped me and charted the course for my career as a songwriter.”
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 three categories.
The Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture is “Yellow Rock,” produced by Enlightenment Films, Inc. and Vallelonga Productions, written by Lenore Andriel and Steve Doucette, and directed by Nick Vallelonga. The film realistically depicts the plight of Native Americans in their 1880 California Territory. Told through their eyes, the story reveals the callousness of men on a deceptive “Search and Rescue” mission. Through their greed and betrayal, they ultimately bring the unsuspecting tribe to the brink of extinction. The film stars Michael Biehn, James Russo, Lenore Andriel, Michael Spears, Eddie Spears and Zahn McClarnon.
In the category for Television Feature Film, the top honors go to “Love’s Christmas Journey,” produced by Larry Levinson and directed by David S. Cass, Sr. The story of recently widowed Ellie King who does her best to enjoy the holidays, even making new friends. Through a series of crisis and when all seems lost, Ellie not only gets the perfect holiday miracle, but also the chance at a new life when she finds herself falling in love again. Starring in the film are Natalie Hall, Dylan Bruce, Sean Astin, JoBeth Williams, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Shaughnessy.
Outstanding Documentary winner “Main Street Wyoming: Charles Belden Cowboy Photographer” features many of Belden’s most famous photographs, interviews with his granddaughter and Belden historians, a restoration of his darkroom and a movie made by Belden: “Where West is still West.” The historical presentation, part of a Wyoming PBS series, is written and produced by Tom Manning, directed by Kyle Nicholoff and executive produced by Ruby Calvert. Belden began taking photos chronicling everyday life on Wyoming’s 250,000 acre Pitchfork Ranch. His photographs convey a sense of energy, vitality and adventure as well as har dships on the Wyoming range. They were published in such leading magazines as National Geographic, Saturday Evening Post and Life. He helped pioneer the process of planting fish from the air and helped conduct a census of wildlife herd populations using aerial photographs. This documentary is a fascinating look at Belden’s life and times.
The 51st anniversary Western Heritage Awards will be celebrated at the April 21 gala at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. First presented in 1961, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Western Heritage Awards were established to honor and encourage the legacy of those whose works in literature, music, film and television reflect the significant stories of the American West. The awards program also recognizes inductees into the prestigious Hall of Great Westerners and the Hall of Great Western Performers as well as the recipient of the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award, named in honor of the Museum’s founder.
Hall of Great Western Performers
For induction into the Hall of Great Western Performers actors must have made significant contributions to the perpetuation of the Western film, radio or theatre through a solid body of work. Additionally, the inductee must project the traditional Western ideas of honesty, integrity and self-sufficiency.
Bruce Boxleitner is an American actor who uses his extensive skills as a horseman in several Westerns throughout his career. Boxleitner made more than 100 appearances in various movies and television shows between 1972 and the present. He is probably best known co-starring with James Arness as his nephew in his first made for television movie, “The Machan’s,” which later became the ambitious series of 24 two-hour films under the title “How the West Was Won.” Other credits include starring as Billy Montana opposite Kenny Rogers in four out of the five Gambler TV mini-series, based on the best-selling song performed by Rogers. He also starred in additional Westerns including: “Gunsmoke V,” “One Man’s Justice” with Arness, CBS’ remake of “Red River” also with Arness, Gregory Harrison, and Laura Johnson and “Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone,” with Hugh O’Brian. “Wyatt Earp” was filmed on location in Tombstone, Ariz., site of the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. The actor also appeared in “Down the Long Hills,” based on legendary western author Louis L’Amour’s novel of the same name. Boxleitner was cast as a young Wyatt Earp in the made for television movie “I Married Wyatt Earp” co-starring with Marie Osmond in 1983. Three years ago he starred with Ernest Borgnine in “Aces ‘N’ Eights” and looks forward to 2012 when he stars first animated Disney TV series. A native midwesterner, Boxleitner received training on stage and is an alumnus of Chicago’s prestigious Goodman Theatre. He relocated to Los Angeles and quickly launched a guest spot on the legendary television series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Fess Parker (1924-2010) was an American icon known for his portrayal of frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, which impacted millions of young viewers and created an international phenomenon in the late 1950s and 60s. Originally from Texas, Parker began acting professionally in 1951 as a stage performer in the national company of “Mister Roberts” with Henry Fonda. Shortly afterward, he made his film debut in “Untamed Frontier,” with Joseph Cotton and Shelley Winters. In 1954, Walt Disney signed Parker to play the title role of “Davy Crockett,” “King of the Wild Frontier.” He continued to star in numerous box office hits such as “Old Yeller,” “The Great Locomotive Chase” and “Westward Ho the Wagons!” Later Parker filled in for Howard Keel as Curly in the musical tour of Oklahoma. In 1964, he began filming the network television series, “Daniel Boone,” which he also co-produced and directed five of its most popular episodes. Parker went on to be a real-estate developer in California, owning a resort, winery, vineyard, country inn and spa. Parker and his wife Marcella, were married 50 years and the Parker Family continues to be generous supporters of Direct Relief International and the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
Hall of Great Westerners
Induction into the Hall of Great Westerners honors individuals who promote America’s rich Western heritage through leadership and patronage of art, business, industry, environmental, education, humanitarian, government or philanthropic organizations.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Fort Collins, Colorado, who was born with autism, has notched remarkable lifetime achievements. Dr. Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College in 1970. In 1974, she was employed as Livestock Editor for the Arizona Farmer Ranchman and also worked for Corral Industries on equipment design. In 1975, she earned her Master’s in Animal Science at Arizona State University for her work on the behavior of cattle in different squeeze chutes. She was awarded her PhD in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989 and is currently a professor at Colorado State University, where she continues her research while teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design. Because of her extensive work on the design of handling facilities, half the cattle in th e U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she has designed for meat plants. Dr. Grandin has also authored many books including “Livestock Handling and Transport,” “Animals Make Us Human,” “Humane Livestock Handling” and “Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals” and “Animals in Translation,” a New York Times bestseller. Her work with cattle handling was made into an Emmy Award winning HBO documentary titled “Temple Grandin”starring Claire Danes. Additionally, her work has been featured on 20/20, Discovery Channel, PBS Nature and others.
Walter Prescott Webb (1888-1963), Panola County, Texas, was a 20th century U.S. historian and author noted for his groundbreaking historical work on the American West. In 1918, he was invited to join the history faculty at the University of Texas at Austin where he wrote his Master of Art’s thesis on the Texas Rangers in 1920. In pursuit of his doctorate (awarded in 1932) he began an historical work on the West, resulting in “The Great Plains,” published in 1931 and hailed as a breakthrough in the interpretation of the history of the region. From 1939 to 1946 he served as president of the Texas State Historical Association. During that time, Dr. Webb launched a project to produce an encyclopedia of Texas, which was subsequently published in 1952 as the “Handbook of Texas.” The same year, he published “The Great Frontier,”which codified his view on the frontier experience. Over the next several years Webb focused on a number of contemporary issues facing many Western states. In 1957 Webb published an article in Harper’s titled “The American West, Perpetual Mirage,” which was widely rebuked at the time and put him at the vanguard of water rights issues. Because of his views on irrigation of productive cropland, some modern critics of U.S. policy on water usage view Webb’s thought to be prophetic.
Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award
In 1990, the Museum established the Chester A. Reynolds Award named in honor of the Museum’s founder. The Chester A. Reynolds Award is presented to a living honoree or group who has notably perpetuated the legacy of the American West through one or a combination of the following: entrepreneurial endeavors, dedication to or promotion of the ideals of individualism, honesty, humility and integrity that are closely identified with the American West, a distinguished life’s work as a rancher, cowboy, or ranch hand. The Award seeks to recognize individuals or groups who have demonstrated, through a single remarkable achievement or body of quality work over a period of years, unwavering commitment to Western ideals and values.
Jerry Cates, Amarillo, Texas, was a world renowned spur maker and cowboy. He worked and lived on the LX Ranch from 1959 until 1967. After leaving the ranch, he worked at the Amarillo Livestock Auction as brand inspector for the Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association. As a young man, Cates started making bits and spurs for himself. His talent and love of the craft turned into a full-time profession in which he enjoyed for many years. He passed away unexpectedly June 3, 2011, and will be honored posthumously.
Western Heritage Awards Current Winners
Film & Television
Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture Yellow Rock
Outstanding Documentary Main Street Wyoming Charles Belden-Cowboy Photographer
Outstanding Television Feature Film Love’s Christmas Journey
Outstanding Juvenile Book Emerita Romero-Anderson Milagro of the Spanish BeanPot
Outstanding Western Novel Thomas Fox Averill Rode
Outstanding Nonfiction Book Paul L. Hedren After Custer
Outstanding Art Book B. Byron Price, et.al The Eugene B. Adkins Collection
Outstanding Photography Book J. Don Cook Shooting from the Hip
Outstanding Magazine Article Louis Kraft When Wynkoop Was Sheriff
Outstanding Poetry Book Patricia Frolander Married Into It
Outstanding Original Composition R.J. Vandygriff
Outstanding Traditional Western Music Album Dan Roberts
Hall of Great Westerners – L Temple Grandin, PhD
Hall of Great Westerners – D Walter Prescott Webb
Hall of Great Western Performers – L Bruce Boxleitner
Hall of Great Western Performers – D Fess Parker
Chester A. Reynolds Award Jerry Cates