The Julie and Rocky Dixon Chair of U.S. Western History and an associate professor of history and environmental studies at the University of Oregon, Marsha Weisiger specializes in the environmental history of the American West. Her research and teaching also encompass Native Americans, gender, social and labor history, and public history. Her book Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country (2009) won four awards, including the Western History Association's Hal Rothman Book Award and the the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association's Carol and Norris Hundley Award. She is also the author of Land of Plenty: Oklahomans in the Cotton Fields of Arizona, 1933-1942 (1995). She is currently working on two related books, one on the meaning of wildness along western rivers and the other on the ways that explorers, scientists, and recreationists narrated their adventures down the Colorado River. Additionally, she is researching the history of the intersections between the countercultural and environmental movements.
Navajos and New Deal conservationists told radically different stories about the way nature works and human relations to nature, and each proposed utterly different solutions to the problem of soil erosion on the Navajo Reservation in the 1930s. The federal government had the power to prescribe a conservation program, but proved unsuccessful in restoring the range.