Portrait photo of Elizabeth Fenn
Elizabeth Fenn is the featured speaker for the 2017-18 Barry Michrina Memorial Lecture Series on Nov. 9.


Pulitzer Prize-winning author to speak at CMU

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Elizabeth Fenn is coming to Colorado Mesa University as the featured speaker for the 2017-18 Barry Michrina Memorial Lecture Series on Thursday, November 9, at 7:00pm in Houston Hall 138.

Fenn, the Walter and Lucienne Driskill Professor of Western American History at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will speak about “Sakagawea’s Capture and the History of the Early West.”

Her expertise is in the early American West, focused on epidemic disease, Native American and environmental history. Her 2014 book, Encounters at the Heart of the World:  A History of the Mandan People, received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for History and analyzed Mandan Indian history from 1100 to 1845. 

Fenn is also the author of Pox Americana:  The Great Smallpox epidemic of 1775-82 (2001) and co-author, with her husband Peter H. Wood of Natives and Newcomers: The Way We Lived in North Carolina before 1770 (1983).  Her current work is “an expansive biography” of Sacagawea, whose life will be used to elucidate the wider history of the northern plains and Rockies. 

Barry Michrina, who died in 2012, taught at CMU for more than twenty years. His courses on Native Americans, world cultures, religion and culture, and ethnographic methods were popular with many students. In 1997, Barry won the prestigious Distinguished Faculty Award. 

The Michrina family and other donors established a scholarship fund in recognition of Michrina’s commitment to Native American cultures that annually awards a $1,000 scholarship to a Native American student attending CMU.  

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