2017 WHA Election

Article VI of the WHA Constitution and ByLaws explains the function and process of the Nominating Committee for the organization's annual election. Electronic ballots arrived in your email inbox from OpaVote on Thursday, August 31. If you did not receive an email, please contact the WHA Office. 


Martha A. Sandweiss, Princeton University

Martha A. (Marni) Sandweiss is Professor of History at Princeton University. She received her B. A. from Harvard University (1975) and her M.A. and Ph.D. (1985) from Yale University.  From 1979 to 1989 she was Curator of Photographs at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth. From 1989 to 2009 she worked at Amherst College, first as Director of the Mead Art Museum, and later as Professor of American Studies and History. She is the author of Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace (1986), Print the Legend: Photography and the American West (2002), and Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception across the Color Line (2009); co-author of Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War (1989), co-editor of The Oxford History of the American West (1994) and editor of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (1991). At present, she is writing a book about the intersecting stories embedded in a single photograph made at Ft. Laramie in 1868. The curator of numerous museum exhibitions, she is also the founder and director of the Princeton and Slavery Project, a major public history project exploring the university’s historical connections to the institution of slavery. She has served on the boards of the Western History Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Society of American Historians.

Over a career spanning work in museums, a liberal arts college and a research university, the Western History Association has remained a key intellectual home for me, much valued for its ability to bring together a broad community of people who care about the American West. As President of the WHA, I will work to keep our tent big and welcoming, a place for historians in all stages of careers and from all sorts of venues, and everyone interested in western history. I will also work to deepen our ties to other professional associations and organizations, sharing and underscoring what our study of the American West has already taught us: western history is American history. 


Vote for two people to fill two positions on the WHA Council.

Brian Hosmer, University of Tulsa

Brian Hosmer holds the H.G. Barnard Chair of Western American History at the University of Tulsa, where he teaches a broad range of classes on American Indians, environment, history of the North American West, and “Imagined West.”  An active member of the Western History Association for more than 25 years, Hosmer earned his MA and PhD in Western American History from the University of Tulsa.  At Tulsa, he developed and co-directs the Oklahoma Indigenous Studies Alliance, serves on the Board of Directors for the Woody Guthrie Center and is active in professional and civic organizations. From 2002-07 he served as Director of The Newberry Library’s D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History (now D’Arcy McNickle Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies) and held a faculty position at the University of Illinois at Chicago. That followed a six-year tenure at the University of Wyoming.  Hosmer’s research considers intersections between economic change and tribal nationhood in 20th century Native America. His publications include American Indians in the Marketplace, Native Pathways (with Colleen O’Neill), Tribal Worlds (with Larry Nesper) and Native Americans and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman.  With Larry Nesper he co-edits the book series, “Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies of American Indian Nation Building” (SUNY Press).  He his currently completing two book manuscripts, Working and Belonging on Wind River, and Indians of Illinois, A Concise History.  

Sheila McManus, University of Lethbridge

After completing my PhD in 2001 I was appointed the first Post-Doctoral Associate at the Howard Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale University. I taught American and Canadian history at the University of Winnipeg in 2002-03, and joined the University of Lethbridge in 2003 where I teach world history, the histories of the American and Canadian Wests, historiography and methodology. My primary research field is the history of the borderlands of the North American West. I am the author of The Line Which Separates: Race, Gender and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands (University of Nebraska Press, 2005), and Choices and Chances: A History of Women in the U.S. West (Harlan Davidson, 2010). I co-edited and contributed an article to the anthology One Step Over the Line: Toward an Inclusive History of Women in the North American West (U of A Press, 2008). My next book, Both Sides Now: Writing the Edges of the North American West is under contract to Texas A&M Press. I have published chapters in The World of the American West and The Routledge History of the 20th Century United States, as well as articles in The Borderlands of the American and Canadian WestsOne West: Two MythsThe Journal of American Ethnic HistoryAgricultural HistoryTelling Tales, and the Encyclopedia of American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History. I served on the Western Historical Quarterly editorial board from 2013-2015, the Bolton-Cutter Award in Borderlands History committee from 2013-2015, and the American Historical Association’s Albert Corey Book Prize committee on Canadian-American Relations from 2014-2017. I am also passionate about teaching and learning in higher education, so I was thrilled to join the WHA’s Committee on Teaching and Public Education earlier this year. Having been a member of the WHA since grad school and attended the annual conference nearly every year since, I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the WHA Council. A particular focus of mine would be to ensure that scholars of the North American West who are based at Canadian universities are consistently represented on WHA committees.

James N. Leiker, Johnson County Community College

Raised in a farming community on the High Plains, Jim Leiker is Professor of History and Chair of History and Political Science at JCCC in Overland Park.  He is the author of Racial Borders: Black Soldiers along the Rio Grande and co-author of The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory, winner of the 2011 Great Plains Studies Distinguished Book Prize.  His publications include an article in the current WHQ issue, "The Klan in the Coal Mines: The End of Kansas's Reform Era in the 1920s."  In 2009, Jim founded JCCC's Kansas Studies Institute and in 2017 was president of the Kansas Association of Historians.  He has served on the Gibson and Utley book award committees, the editorial boards for Great Plains Quarterly and Kansas History, helped start the Community College breakfast, and presently chairs the Social Science and History CLEP test development committee for the College Board.  He was the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays scholarship in Egypt and Israel, and has taught on and participated in exchanges to France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

I am honored to be nominated for executive leadership with an organization that has helped define my career.  Since my first conference in Albuquerque in 1994, time has not dimmed the excitement I feel every fall anticipating re-connections with old friends and learning about new developments in the field.  Yet time has taught the importance of adaptability.  Our discipline faces unprecedented challenges of maintaining vibrancy amidst a shrinking tenured professoriate.  My candidacy offers an opportunity to include perspectives by one who has faced such challenges outside the conventional structure of a research university.  As a department head at one of the nation's largest two-year colleges, serving a student population from metropolitan Kansas City noted for its diversity of background and level of preparation, I see firsthand the difficulties faced by new PhDs, which is why I volunteered for the WHA contingent faculty committee.  These times demand attention to the needs of teachers and public historians as well as a spirit of alliance-building.  Whereas once I equated "interdisciplinary" with an ability to learn from literature and sociology, years of collaboration with my school's many technical programs lead me to equate it now with filmmaking and culinary arts.  I will draw on that flexibility to expand western history’s relevance to wider audiences and locate alternate career paths for the next generation, while retaining WHA's commitment to excellent scholarship.

Jeffrey Ostler, University of Oregon

I have been a member of the Western History Association since 1990, when I received my Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and became an assistant professor at the University of Oregon. I began my career as a political historian. One of my first articles appeared in the WHQ with the title “Why the Populist Party was Strong in Kansas and Nebraska but Weak in Iowa.” For reasons I fail to understand, friends have ridiculed me for this title. After finishing a monograph on populism (Prairie Populism, University Press of Kansas, 1993), I had the good sense to realize that American Indian history and Ethnohistory were much more lively and interesting fields.  Most of my publications have been in those areas. They include The Plains Sioux and U.S. Colonialism from Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee (Cambridge, 2004), The Lakotas and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground (Viking, 2009), and “‘To Extirpate the Indians’: An Indigenous Consciousness of Genocide in the Ohio Valley and Lower Great Lakes, 1750s-1810,” William and Mary Quarterly (2015). I am currently finishing a book, to be published by Yale UP, that will provide an overview of the impact of U.S. expansion on Native Nations in the eastern half of what became the United States from 1776 to 1860. In addition to working with many talented graduate students at the University of Oregon, I’ve taught courses in western U.S. history, Pacific Northwest history, Environmental history, World history, and American Indian history. I’ve also become something of a fanatic about “Reacting to the Past” games and recently used “Red Clay: Cherokee Removal and the Meaning of Sovereignty” in a new course on Indian Removal.

In addition to serving as a member of the WHQ editorial board and the Robert Utley Prize in western military history, I recently co-chaired (with Susan Gray) an ad hoc committee charged with overseeing the process of locating a new institutional home for the WHQ. If I were to become a member of the Council, I would try to use my academic and professional experience (in WHA and other professional settings and at my home university) to provide helpful input on issues that may arise. I’d also like to encourage the WHA to continue engaging with ideas generated outside of the field but potentially useful within it. Along these lines, I organized (with advice from Margaret Jacobs, who was unable to participate) a roundtable on “settler colonialism and western history” at the 2015 Portland conference. 

Council (Special Election)

Vote for one person to fill an additional position on the WHA Council.

Cecilia Tsu, University of California, Davis

I have been involved in the WHA for over a decade and would be honored to serve on its council to represent the organization’s vibrant community of energetic and committed scholars. Since 2006, I have been on the faculty in the history department at the University of California, Davis, where I teach courses in U.S. history, Asian American/ immigration history, and the history of California. My first book, Garden of the World: Asian Immigrants and the Making of Agriculture in California’s Santa Clara Valley, examined how the presence of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants fundamentally altered the agricultural economy and landscape of the Santa Clara Valley as well as white residents’ ideas about race, gender, and what it meant to be an American family farmer. My current research continues to interrogate Asian American history in the West in a different context, focusing on the evolution of Southeast Asian refugee resettlement policy and its intersection with the rise of American conservatism in the 1970s-1980s. I am proud that my first published article appeared in the Western Historical Quarterly, and to have served subsequently on the journal’s editorial board. In addition to being a regular presenter, panel commentator, and attendee at the WHA’s annual meeting, I have also participated as a program committee and prize committee member. In these various capacities, I have encountered thoughtful, generous, and exceptionally innovative scholars, teachers, and public historians. I look forward to building on the many strengths of our constituency and bringing members’ insights and ideas to the council.



 Gregory E. Smoak, University of Utah

Gregory E. Smoak is the director of the American West Center and associate professor of history at the University of Utah, where he teaches the Native and environmental history of the American West and Public History. The University of California Press published his book Ghost Dances and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth Century, and the University of Oklahoma Press will publish his new book, a “Public Environmental History” of the Little Bighorn Battlefield. He has done applied work for and with numerous Native peoples, including projects with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the Big Sandy Rancheria of Western Mono Indians and the Navajo Nation. Smoak first joined the WHA as a graduate student in 1985. His service to the WHA includes the Committee on Public History (as founding chair), the American Indian Student Scholarship Committee, the WHQ Board of Editors, and three conference program committees. He is also an active member of the National Council on Public History, previously serving on its Board of Directors, and the Organization of American Historians where he chaired the Public History Committee.

Community engaged scholarship is at the heart of my work as well as my vision for the Western History Association. Over the past six years I helped to establish a WHA Committee on Public History, and then as the committee’s inaugural chair to make the WHA a more meaningful home for public historians. As a council member I would work to further these efforts and build stronger ties between the WHA and community based historians and organizations. I also believe that such outreach will speak to our growing graduate student membership. The future health of the WHA, like all professional organizations, hinges on its next generation. As the historical profession changes and the arbitrary boundaries between “academic” and “public” history are seemingly in decline, community engagement and applied scholarship are no longer considered part of a “Plan B,” but increasingly understood as essential skills that help to prepare graduate students for a diverse range of careers. I believe that those young historians, regardless of where they find employment, will gravitate towards professional organizations with a visible commitment to engaged and applied history.


Nominating Committee

Vote for two people to fill two positions on the WHA Nominating Committee

Benny Andrés, Jr., University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Greetings! I’m associate professor of history and Latin American Studies at UNC, Charlotte. I have degrees from San Diego State (B.A.) and the University of New Mexico (M.A., Ph.D.). I teach the American West, the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Latino history, U.S. food history, and a modern U.S. history graduate seminar at UNC, Charlotte, where I have taught for ten years. Before UNCC, I taught full-time at a community college in California while researching and writing my dissertation. Along my journey, I’ve done oral history, public history, and spent summers doing archaeology in Wyoming! My research examines transmigration, labor, race relations and environmental issues along the California borderlands in the twentieth century. My publications include one book chapter, two journal articles and Power and Control in the Imperial Valley: Nature, Agribusiness, and Workers on the California Borderland, 1900-1940 in 2015), which Choice selected as an outstanding academic book. My current book project is “La Compañía de Terrenos y Aguas de la Baja California: An Environmental Enterprise on the Mexico-U.S. Border, 1910-1962,” which explores waterworks, farming, labor, and political history along the lower Colorado River.

Service to the public and the academic community is very important to me. I’ve been a regular attendee at WHA conferences since I presented my first paper in Denver in 1992. I’ve served on the WHA program committee (twice), spoke at the 2013 plenary roundtable in Tucson, and was a panel chair and commentator. At UNCC, I participated in the creation of the Caucus of Hispanic/Latino Faculty and Staff, serving as its first secretary. In addition to referring journal and book manuscripts, I’ve chaired the Alice Hamilton Prize Committee for the American Society for Environmental History.

I’m a tireless proponent of teaching western history in K-12, and I fully support western history scholarship in public history, particularly in public art, museums and the digital humanities. Over the decades, I’ve seen the WHA weather formidable challenges and become a stronger and more inclusive organization. If elected to the Nominating Committee, I pledge to recruit candidates to serve as officers who will expand our membership, reach diverse audiences and continue the WHA’s role as the premier advocate for western history.

Connie Chiang, Bowdoin College

Connie Chiang is associate professor of History and Environmental Studies at Bowdoin College, where she teaches the history of the American West, environmental history, California history, and Asian American history. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara (1996) and her M.A. (1997) and Ph.D. (2002) from the University of Washington. She is the author of Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast (Washington, 2008). Her second book, provisionally titled Nature Behind Barbed Wire: An Environmental History of the Japanese American Incarceration, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Building on questions and themes raised in her previous work, she is beginning to explore a new book project on Valley fever and its intersections with migration, incarceration, and climate change in the Southwest.

The WHA has been an intellectual home for nearly two decades. She has served on the annual meeting program committee twice, and she just completed a term on the editorial board of the Western Historical Quarterly. She is eager to deepen her commitment to and involvement with the organization. As a Westerner now based in New England, she understands the importance of reaching out to people and groups who may seem, at first glance, to be on the margins of the WHA. Serving on the nominating committee offers an important opportunity to ensure that the WHA continues to welcome new constituents and incorporate disparate perspectives. If elected, she will seek candidates who represent the diversity of the American West—as a field of study and as a contemporary region—and are committed to the growth and vibrancy of the field and the organization.

Steve Danver, Walden University & Journal of the West

I have been privileged for the past eight years to be core faculty in history at Walden University, and for the past two years, the Executive Director of its Center for General Education. I have also had the extreme privilege of serving as the managing editor of Journal of the West since 2004, which has allowed me to get to know an unbelievable assortment of friends throughout the field. Among my publications are the SAGE Encyclopedia of Online Education (Sage, 2016), the Encyclopedia of Politics in the American West (CQ Press, 2013), Native Peoples of the World (M.E. Sharpe, 2013), and the Encyclopedia of Water Politics and Policy in the United States (CQ Press, 2011). My research continues to examine the imperialistic and paternalistic origins of the attitudes and actions of Russian and American mission leaders toward Native Alaskans during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and looks at the actions Southwestern Native nations have taken during the 19th and 20th centuries to claim and preserve their right to the scarce waters of the West. A member of the WHA since I was a doctoral student at the University of Utah in 1998, I have presented at the WHA Annual Conference many times over the years. What I’ve always loved about the WHA is the way that it successfully mixes different groups and creates a vibrant dialogue as a result. While some may criticize the WHA for not having a well-defined purview, I believe that breadth has been a strength for the organization, allowing it to prosper as the tides of scholarship have ebbed and flowed. My love for Western history and the WHA has led me to want to be even more deeply involved, to ensure that the welcoming attitude that has been such a strength is never diminished. The WHA and so many of its members have done an incredible amount for me over my career, and I’d like the opportunity to help the organization to do the same for the younger scholars who enter the organization. My years in the profession have well equipped me to advance the work of the WHA and to ensure that those things that draw us together – the diversity of people and ideas and the dedication we all have to the vitality of our field – are maintained and encouraged to grow.

Amy Lonetree, University of California, Santa Cruz

I’m an enrolled citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation and an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. My research focuses on Indigenous history, visual culture studies, and public history, and I have received fellowships in support of this work from the School for Advanced Research, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center, the Institute of American Cultures at UCLA, and the University of California, Berkeley Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. My publications include, Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums; a co-edited book with Amanda J. Cobb, The National Museum of the American Indian: Critical Conversations; and a co-authored volume, People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879-1942). I’m currently working on two new book projects. The first is a visual history of the Ho-Chunk Nation. This research explores family history, tourism, settler colonialism, and Ho-Chunk survivance through an examination of two exceptional collections of studio portraits and tourist images of Ho-Chunk people taken between 1879-1960. The second research project is a historical study documenting the adoption of Indigenous children throughout the twentieth century. I currently serve on the Board of the Native American Art Studies Association, the editorial board of The Public Historian, as a series editor of the Many Wests Book Series with the University of Nebraska Press, and as the associate editor of the Wicazo Sa Review. As part of the WHA, I have served on two conference program committees (2015 & 2016) and the Arrel M. Gibson Prize Committee. 

It is with great pleasure that I add my name to the list of candidates for a position on the WHA Nominations Committee. I attended my first conference as a graduate student in 1994 and benefited tremendously from the welcoming and inspiring scholarly community that the organization fosters. The WHA has provided a supportive intellectual home for me at all levels of my career, from my graduate student days to now as an associate professor, and I am deeply committed to creating an intellectual hub for those who study the West and all its complexity. It has been exciting to witness the transformation over the last several years as the WHA has become a more welcoming place for those working in Indigenous history, public history, critical ethnic studies, and visual culture studies.  If selected for a position on the Nominations Committee, I will continue to work to bridge these fields with the WHA and seek candidates who reflect the diversity of interests of this dynamic community of scholars that I have the privilege of learning and working with.

Sponsors and Partners

The WHA is hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and benefits from the generous support of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Western History Association | University of Nebraska at Omaha | Department of History | 6001 Dodge Street | Omaha, NE 68182 | 

| (402) 554-5999 | westernhistoryassociation@gmail.com

The Western History Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.