Jim Leiker and cover of his book

Award-winning history

“The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory,” co-written by Jim Leiker, professor, history,  and director, Kansas Studies Institute, has been named winner of two book prizes. 

The Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has bestowed the book with the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, and the Kansas Center for the Book at the State Library of Kansas selected the work as a 2012 Kansas Notable Book

Leiker co-write the book with Ramon Powers, emeritus director of the Kansas State Historical Society. The book is published by the University of Oklahoma Press and is available through them. 

According to the Center for Great Plains Studies, its book award “was created to emphasize the interdisciplinary importance of the Great Plains in today's publishing and educational market.” 

Leiker and Powers split a $5,000 prize and will be invited to present at the University of Nebraska during the fall semester of 2012. 

The Kansas Notable Books List recognizes 15 books a year that are either by Kansas authors or about Kansas. 

Throughout the award year, Kansas Center for the Book promotes all the titles on that year's list electronically, at literary events, and among librarians and booksellers. 

“The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory” tells the story of the forced exodus of the Northern Cheyennes from Indian Territory in 1878. 

The first two chapters of the book are a retelling of the historic event, Leiker said, but the last three chapters examine the incident from the point of view of memory, of how the story is retold today, not only by the Cheyenne descendants but by the descendants of the white settlers – some of whom are still living in northwestern Kansas. 

“The real story here is the memory. Historians can go through the records – the newspaper accounts, the military documents – and we can pretty much piece together what happened. But the way people were remembering the story was vastly different,” he said. 

Leiker was College Scholar for the spring semester of 2012 and delivered two presentations, based on the book, to the college community. 

Leiker has taught history at JCCC since 2002. He received his doctorate degree in U.S. Social History from the University of Kansas and has served as the director of the Kansas Studies Institute, based at JCCC, since 2009. 

In addition to his latest book, he is also the author of “Racial Borders: Black Soldiers Along the Rio Grande” and “The Changing Village: A Centennial History of Antonino, Kansas 1905-2005.”