A University of Montana professor is the first Native American woman to win a book award from a prestigious national history organization.
Rosalyn LaPier, associate professor of environmental studies, received two separate honors - the John C. Ewers and Donald Fixico book awards - honoring excellence in historical writing from the Western History Association at a banquet last week.
"I think it was great that I won as an indigenous woman, but I also think that it was important to sort of open those doors for the next generation of indigenous scholars and indigenous women to be doing the types of research and writing that I was doing."
Her book, called “Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet,” focuses on the tribe’s relationship with the natural world. LaPier is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe.
"I am Blackfeet and I am from that community, but I think that their story is universal in a lot of ways."
She says as events like the protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline take the national spotlight, her look at the past can inform issues in the present.
This award is first time an indigenous woman as a standalone author has received such honors from the Western History Association. LaPier received another award from the organization in 2016 for a book she co-authored.
She says her next project will focus on revitalizing knowledge of indigenous plant use in Montana.