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The Oklahomans Wins Will Rogers Medallion Award Gold

The Dwyers—John, Luke, Katie, and Grace—celebrating The Oklahomans’ double gold Will Rogers Medallion Award win for Western non-fiction.


If you are reading this feature, chances are good that you contributed in some way to The Oklahomans: The Story of Oklahoma and Its People, Vol. 1, Ancient-Statehood, by John J. Dwyer, winning both the author and publisher gold medals for Western non-fiction at the fourteenth annual Will Rogers Medallion Award banquet, Saturday night, Oct. 28th, in Fort Worth.

Andy Hogan

Andy Hogan of Claremore, acclaimed Will Rogers impersonator, and Grace and John Dwyer enjoy the Will Rogers Medallion Award Publishers Night Out in Fort Worth, the night before the awards banquet.

The Oklahomans

When announcing the judges’ decision, Executive Director Charles Williams described The Oklahomans as “One of the best books we’ve ever seen in any category of our competition. It won in the most competitive category of this year’s contest.” Opponents included Glen Sample Ely’s much heralded The Texas Frontier and the Butterfield Overland Mail from the University of Oklahoma Press (John’s alma mater), and Charles E. Wright’s Law at the Little Big Horn from Texas Tech University Press. Winner of the Western fiction category was Craig Johnson, well known creator of the popular television series hero Longmire, for the novel The Highwayman.

John Wayne Marker

John Wayne’s marker in the famed Fort Worth Stockyards, site of the 2017 Will Rogers Medallion Award banquet.


The Will Rogers Medallion Award recognizes excellence in Western literature and media. Originally created to honor outstanding volumes of cowboy poetry, it expanded into other categories as interest and reader demand increased. According to Williams, “All works must represent an accurate reflection of Western Americana, or cowboy and ranch life, historical or contemporary. Will Rogers was an accomplished author as well as a cowboy entertainer, and the purpose of the award is to honor this facet of his legacy, as well as to highlight current books that embody strong content, excellent production values, and enduring interest.”

Will Rogers Medallion Award Banquet

The Oklahomans “cheering section,” which included, L-R, Casey Cowan (partially), Grant Hobbs, Paul Dwyer, Ken Sibley, Ann Sibley, Mary Smelser, and Caroline Malone. The famed Cattlemen’s Steakhouse of Fort Worth hosted the Will Rogers Medallion Award banquet.


This year’s program took place in the Fort Worth Stockyards during Red Steagall’s Twenty-Seventh Cowboy Gathering. It attracted authors and publishers from as far away as California, Utah, Nevada, and New York State. “As writers, as Westerners, and as Americans, we owe a tremendous debt to Will Rogers, and this is our way of acknowledging and honoring that debt,” Williams said.

John Dwyer and the men

John and the men whose production of his Civil War epic The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War led to his opportunity to write The Oklahomans as an official Oklahoma Centennial Commission project. L-R, Jim Almond, John and Luke Dwyer, Paul Dwyer, Ken Sibley, and Bill Massie.


The Oklahomans, published by Norman-based Red River Press, features a lavish gallery of the greatest Oklahoma historical paintings by artists such as Wayne Cooper, Don Stivers, Andy Thomas, Neal Taylor, Charles Banks Wilson, and Mike Wimmer. Former Oklahoma Governor and best-selling author Frank Keating wrote the foreword. The book chronicles the history of present-day Oklahoma from ancient times through statehood. Volume 2, which Dwyer is currently writing, begins just before World War 1 and advances to the present.

Grant Hobbs, John, Venessa Cerasale, and Casey Cowan. Since 2005, John’s former student Grant has created his fantastic book preview videos (seen below). Casey is president of Oghma Creative Media, publisher of John’s new World War 2 historical novel Shortgrass and the 2018 sequel Mustang. Venessa is Oghma’s business manager.


James Caster, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Central Oklahoma, calls The Oklahomans “As fine a treatment of the subject and period as we are likely to witness in our lifetime.” Bob Blackburn, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, calls it “The best Oklahoma History book ever.” The Oklahomans is available through local book stores, online retailers, or HERE.

John Dwyer before and after winning

Immediately before…and after John learns he has won Western non-fiction Will Rogers Gold Medallion Awards as author and publisher for The Oklahomans.

Grandson Luke Dwyer

Future storyteller Luke Dwyer, John’s two-year-old grandson, who had the most imagination of anyone in the place at the Will Rogers Medallion Award banquet.


Will Rogers, the Cherokee Kid, in whose revered memory it all happened.

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