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UW’s Nickerson Receives Writing Award from Cowboy, Western Heritage Museum

April 2, 2018
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Greg Nickerson

Greg Nickerson, a Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit associate research scientist at the University of Wyoming, will be honored by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Okla., for a historical piece on Native Americans in the Sheridan Rodeo in the early 1950s.

He will receive the Outstanding Magazine Article Wrangler Award in a ceremony Saturday, April 14, that will be emceed by actors Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross.

The winning article, titled “All-American Indian Days and the Miss Indian America Pageant,” was published in the summer 2017 issue of Montana The Magazine of Western History. This will be the eighth Wrangler Award for the Montana Historical Society’s magazine.

“This is an extremely prestigious award,” Montana editor Molly Holz says. “Greg’s article has received a lot of attention, and we have had requests for it from all over the nation.”

Nickerson’s article tells the story of the creation of the All-American Indian Days and the Miss Indian America Pageant at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo in the early 1950s. During this period, Indians from reservations in southern and eastern Montana often traveled to Sheridan to shop, yet they faced prejudice from Main Street businesses that refused to serve them.

Native people and reform-minded community leaders joined together to create All-American Indian Days and the Miss Indian America Pageant as a site of reconciliation, and these efforts at improving race relations earned Sheridan national recognition. The winners of the Miss Indian America Pageant embraced the opportunity to use the honor to promote interracial understanding and American Indian culture.

Nickerson earned an M.S. degree in history of the American West from UW. Originally from Big Horn, he conducted interviews with Miss Indian America Pageant organizers and Crow Fair participants as a student at Carleton College and later while curating an exhibition on All-American Indian Days for the Sheridan County Museum.

In 2015, he produced the short film, “No Indians or Dogs Allowed? Sheridan, Wyoming and the Miss Indian America Pageant,” for Wyoming PBS, which is available on Vimeo.

“This article and award really is a tribute to the Sheridan volunteers and American Indians who put on the Miss Indian America Pageant from 1953-1984, and to the local archivists who preserved records of the event,” Nickerson says.


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