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Weisiger receives award for article in history journal

Associate professor of history at New Mexico State University, Marsha Weisiger, was recently selected as the winner of the 2008 Western History Association's Oscar O. Winther Award for the best article appearing in the Western Historical Quarterly.

Marsha Weisiger, associate professor of history at New Mexico State University College of Arts and Sciences, recently received news of an award for an article she authored for The Western Historical Quarterly.

Her article, "Gendered Injustice: Navajo Livestock Reduction in the New Deal Era" appeared in the journal in the 2007 winter edition.

"I'm thrilled about the Winther Award, which is a great, unexpected honor," Weisiger said. The article is an excerpt from a book she has been working on for more than a decade titled "Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country." Her book will be published next spring by the University of Washington Press as part of the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series, she said.

The article focuses on environmental injustice among the Native American population in the 1930s. In an effort to conserve land from the effects of overgrazing from livestock and climate changes, Indian Reorganization Act policymakers required Navajos to reduce their livestock herds by half. In Weisiger's article, she uses a variety of sources to demonstrate that federal officials made a critical mistake when they didn't include women in the decision-making process.

"I was inspired to write the article and the book, in part, because previous historians had largely ignored the effect of the program on Navajo women, who were extremely important in Navajo society... I felt that the omission of their story distorted our understanding of what went wrong with the federal program," Weisiger said.

In short, the article weaves Navajo history, women's history, environmental history, and an early episode of the environmental justice movement into one story, she said. She gives credit to achieving the bulk of her work on this project during a one-year release from teaching in 2004 and a course release in spring 2006, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Marsha Weisiger is a first-rate scholar, and we are very proud of her accomplishments," said Jeffrey Brown, history department head for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Weisiger has been recognized for her previous accomplishments with an Outstanding Faculty Member award from the college of arts and sciences in addition to being ranked and tenured to become an associate professor of history, he added.

The Oscar O. Winther Award is given to the recipient who achieves "best article to appear in the Western Historical Quarterly each academic year," according to the journal's Web site. Award recipients are selected by the WHQ Board of Editors, made up of experts in history from a variety of universities nationwide. The award is given in tribute of Winther, a founding member of the Western History Association.

Weisiger will officially receive the award in October at the Western History Association's annual meeting in Salt Lake City. To view her article online at the History Cooperative, visit http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/whq/38.4/weisiger.html.