CORVALLIS, Ore. - Steve Hackel, an associate professor in the Department of History at Oregon State University, recently was awarded the 2006 James Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR).

The prestigious SHEAR prize is awarded to an original monograph that deals with the period of 1776-1861 in America.

Hackel was honored for his first book, "Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California., 1769-1850." The book explores aspects of Indian life in Spanish California including disease, depopulation, marriage and sexuality, crime and punishment and religious, economic and political change.

"Children of Coyote" also was honored in a symposium in November of 2005 sponsored by the California Mission Studies Association. It has been recognized as well by the Academy of American Franciscan History and the California Historical Society.

SHEAR gives out a best book, best first book and a best article prize annually. The Philadelphia-based organization was started in 1976 and is dedicated to exploring the events and the meaning of early United States history.

Hackel joined the history department at OSU in 1996. He specializes in the histories of the early American frontier, the American West and American Indians.

Hackel is working on "Father Junípero Serra: California's Founding Father," a biography of the controversial Franciscan who oversaw the creation of California's missions. This biography will be published by Hill and Wang as part of the American Portraits series, a new set of American biographies.

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Steve Hackel,