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Sierra Crane Murdoch Yellow Bird

"Yellow Bird"

May 6, 2020, 7 p.m.

The Bing Crosby Theater, Spokane WA

“This book will tear your heart out. I don’t know a more complicated, original protagonist in literature than Lissa Yellow Bird, or a more dogged reporter in American journalism than Sierra Crane Murdoch. At the center of this extraordinary story is a murder mystery, which unfolds within the ongoing travesty of the Bakken oil boom, which takes place within the unending dispossession of Native Americans. The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, in North Dakota, has a stomach-turning history, and life there today as dramatized here is a haunted, unforgettable struggle, full of bleakness and courage and beautifully drawn characters.” —William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Barbarian Days

Both a gripping true story of a murder on an Indian reservation and a remarkable portrait of the unforgettable Arikara woman who becomes obsessed with solving it, this is an urgent work of literary journalism and social criticism that is not to be missed.

When Lissa Yellow Bird was released from prison in 2009, she found her home, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, transformed by the Bakken oil boom. In her absence, the landscape had been altered beyond recognition, her tribal government swayed by corporate interests, and her community burdened by a surge in violence and addiction. Three years later, when Lissa learned that a young white oil worker, Kristopher "KC" Clarke, had disappeared from his reservation worksite, she became particularly concerned. No one knew where Clarke had gone, and few people were actively looking for him.

"Yellow Bird" is an exquisitely written, masterfully reported story about a search for justice, as well as an intimate profile of a complex woman. Lissa is smart, funny, eloquent, thoughtful, andwhen it serves her causemanipulative. Drawing on eight years of immersive investigation, Crane Murdoch has produced a deep examination of the legacy of systematic violence inflicted on a tribal nation and its individual members, a tale of extraordinary healing, and an exceptional character study of a self-made detective whose passion and larger-than-life personality we will not soon forget.