History Department Alumni Write Award Winning Book

Two Fort Hays history department graduates, James Leiker and Ramon Powers, recently coauthored the book 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.  Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, their study chronicles the removal of Northern Cheyenne Indians to Indian Territory, and the escape of 353 of the tribesmen in a desperate attempt to return to their northern plains homeland.  In their flight north, warriors killed herders and settler, and after a portion of the band was captured and told they would be returned to Indian Territory, they broke out of their prison barracks at Fort Robinson and over sixty were killed in the ensuing effort of the military to capture them.  The book narrates the Exodus and its aftermath, and explores ways the story was remembered by both Northern Cheyenne and others, including surviving settlers and their descendants.

Both Jim and Ramon are natives of western Kansas.  Jim grew up in Antonino, Kansas, and Ramon in Gove County.  After receiving degrees at Fort Hays, Ramon in 1961 and 1963, Jim in 1984 and 1992, received Ph.D.’s from the University of Kansas; Ramon in 1971, Jim in 1999.  Ramon, former Secretary/Executive Director of the Kansas State Historical Society, retired in 2002; Jim is Associate Professor of History at Johnson County Community College and also serves as Director of the Kansas Studies Institute.  Jim’s previous book is Racial Borders, Black Soldiers Along the Rio Grande, published in 2002.

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. K One reviewer says of their book:  “Deeply researched, engagingly written, and remarkable even-handed in its analysis, this is a thought-provoking and valuable addition to western historiography – one that deserves and appreciative audience among both specialists and lay readers alike.”  (The Journal of Military History, Vol. 76, No. 2 (April, 2012), 580)


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