Join us in the Virtual Readings Gallery for this highly-anticipated event!
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.
In Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country, Crane Murdoch traces Lissa's steps as she obsessively hunts for clues to Clarke's disappearance. Lissa navigates two worlds—that of her own tribe, changed by its newfound wealth, and that of the non-Native oilmen, down on their luck, who have come to find work on the heels of the economic recession. Her pursuit of Clarke is also a pursuit of redemption, as Lissa atones for her own crimes and reckons with generations of trauma.
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, and—when it serves her cause—manipulative. 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.
Sierra Crane Murdoch is a journalist based in the American West and has written for The Atlantic, The New Yorker online, Virginia Quarterly Review, Orion, and High Country News. She is a MacDowell Fellow.