Western Writers of America announces 2021 Spur Award winners

ENCAMPMENT, Wyo. – Robert M. Utley, the 91-year-old “Dean of Western History,” and David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation, are among the 2021 Spur Award winners, Western Writers of America has announced.

Utley’s The Last Sovereigns: Sitting Bull and the Resistance of the Free Lakotas, published by the University of Nebraska Press, won for Best Historical Nonfiction. It is Utley’s fourth Spur. He previously won for Geronimo; Lone Star Lawmen: The Second Century of the Texas Rangers; and The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull.

Weiden’s Winter Counts (Echo/HarperCollins) won Spurs for Best Contemporary Novel and Best First Novel. Last year, Weiden’s Spotted Tail won the Spur for Best Juvenile Nonfiction.

Winners and finalists are scheduled to be honored June 16-19 at WWA’s convention in Loveland, Colo.

WWA (WesternWriters.org) promotes and honors the best in Western literature with the annual Spur Awards, selected by panels of judges. Awards, for material published last year, are given for works whose inspiration, image and literary excellence best represent the reality and spirit of the American West.

Johnny D. Boggs expanded his record-holding Spur total to nine by winning in the Best Original Mass-Market Paperback category for A Thousand Texas Longhorns(Pinnacle/Kensington), and bestselling historian Peter Cozzens earned his first Spur for the biography Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation (Alfred A. Knopf).

Laura J. Arata’s Race and the Wild West: Sarah Bickford, the Montana Vigilantes, and the Tourism of Decline, 1870–1930 (University of Oklahoma Press), a finalist for Best Biography, won for Best First Nonfiction Book.

Other winners:

Contemporary Nonfiction: Justin Farrell’s Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West (Princeton University Press).

Historical Novel: James Wade’s All Things Left Wild (Blackstone Publishing).

Romance Novel: Tom Lowe’s Midnight’s Whisperer (Kingsbridge Entertainment).

Traditional Novel: Tyler Enfield’s Like Rum-Drunk Angels (Goose Lane Publications).

Juvenile Fiction: Matthew P. Mayo’s Dilly (Five Star Publishing).

Short Nonfiction: Ted Franklin Belue’s three-part series “Daniel Boone’s Life in the Far West: An Inquiry into his Alleged Yellowstone Hunt” (Muzzleloader Magazine).

Short Fiction: Kevin Wolf’s “Belthanger,” published in Under Western Stars: Stories of the Western Fictioneers (Western Fictioneers).

Storyteller/Illustrated Children’s Book: author Cami Carlson and illustrator Greg White’s Run, Cow, Run! (Kindle Direct Publishing).

Poem: Patricia Frolander’s “Baptism,” published in Second Wind (High Plains Press).

Song: Randy Huston and Jim Jones’s “Don’t Say Goodbye to the Cowboy Way” (Dr. Vet Music/East Mountain Music), from The Cowboy Way’s CD Doin’ What We Do.

Documentary Script: Paul Zalis’s Charlie Russell’s Old West (Montana PBS).

No awards were given in the juvenile nonfiction and drama script categories.

Other Finalists

Biography: Paul Magid’s An Honest Enemy: George Crook and the Struggle for Indian Rights (University of Oklahoma Press).

Contemporary Nonfiction: Theodore Waddell’s Cheatgrass Dreams (Sweetgrass Books); Jim Hoy’s My Flint Hills: Observations and Reminiscences from America’s Last Tallgrass Prairie (University Press of Kansas); and Ginger Gaffney’s Half Broke: A Memoir (W.W. Norton & Company).

Historical Nonfiction: Ryan Hall’s Beneath the Backbone of the World: Blackfoot People and the North American Borderlands, 1720–1877 (The University of North Carolina Press) and Alice L. Baumgartner’s South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War (Basic Books).

Contemporary Novel: Max Evans’s The King of Taos (University of New Mexico Press) and Rudy Ruiz’s The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez (Blackstone Publishing).

Historical Novel: Sidney Thompson’s Follow the Angels, Follow the Doves: The Bass Reeves Trilogy, Book One (University of Nebraska Press) and J.R. Sanders’s Stardust Trail: A Nate Ross Novel (Level Best Books/Historia).

Original Mass-Market Paperback Novel: Brett Cogburn’s Gunpowder Express(Pinnacle/Kensington) and Roy V. Gaston’s Beyond the Goodnight Trail (KDP/Amazon).

Romance Novel: Major Mitchell’s The Valley of Decision (Shalako Press) and Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse’s Forever Hidden (Bethany House).

Traditional Novel: Aaron Gwyn’s All God’s Children (Europa Editions) and Derek Burnett’s The Fortunes and Vicissitudes of Stern Whitman (Five Star Publishing).

Short Nonfiction: Paul L. Hedren’s “Who Killed Crazy Horse: A Historiographical Review and Affirmation” (Nebraska History) and Gretchen E. Minton’s “Shakespeare in Frontier and Territorial Montana, 1820-1889” (Montana The Magazine of Western History).

Short Fiction: Jodi Thomas’s “Father Goose,” published in The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas (Zebra/Kensington) and Allen Morris Jones’s “Statues” (Montana Quarterly).

Storyteller/Illustrated Children’s Book: Author Phil Mills Jr. and illustrator Jeanne Conway’s Bandit the Cow Dog (Mascot Books) and author Jim Jones and illustrator Kamee Young’s Bolo the Brave (Kindle Direct Publishing).

Juvenile Fiction: S.J. Dahlstrom’s Silverbelly (Paul Dry Books) and Will Hobbs’s City of Gold (Harper/HarperCollins).

Poem: Marc Beaudin’s “25 Bears,” published in Life List: Poems (Riverfeet Press) and Betty Lynne McCarthy’s “Saddling,” published in Sundown Horses: 41 Fragments of a Cowgirl’s Life (Sunlit Silver Bit Publishing).

Song: Doug Figgs, Floyd Beard, and Mariam Funke’s “El Caballo del Fuego” (East Mountain Music) from The Cowboy Way’s CD Doin’ What We Do.

Documentary Script: Mark Bedor’s Today’s Wild West’s episode 307 (KVCR, a PBS-TV station in San Bernardino, California).