Sierra Crane Murdoch, a journalist based in the American West, has written for The Atlantic, The New Yorker online, Virginia Quarterly Review, Orion, and High Country News. She has held fellowships from Middlebury College and from the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a MacDowell Fellow.
Sierra Crane Murdoch has written a deft, compelling account of an oil field murder and the remarkable woman who made it her business to solve it. Like the best true crime books, Yellow Bird is about much more than an act of violence. Murdoch's careful reporting delves into the long legacies of greed and exploitation on the reservation and the oil patch, and also the moments of connection and transcendence that chip away at those systems of power. I can't stop thinking and talking about this book. --Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites This book is a detective story, and a good one, that tells what happens when rootless greed collides with rooted culture. But it's also a classic slice of American history, and a tale of resilience in the face of remarkable trauma. Sierra Crane Murdoch is a patient, careful, and brilliant chronicler of this moment in time, a new voice who will add much to our literature in the years ahead. --Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? In Yellow Bird, oilfield meets reservation, and readers meet a true-to-life Native sleuth unlike any in literature. Sierra Crane Murdoch takes a modest, ignored sort of American life and renders it large, with a murder mystery driving the action. It's an empathetic, attentive account by a talented writer and listener. --Ted Conover, author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing and Rolling Nowhere Journalist and first-time author Sierra Crane Murdoch follows an Arikara woman named Lissa Yellow Bird who is determined to solve the mystery of a missing white oil worker on the North Dakota reservation where her family lives. The book offers a gripping narrative of Yellow Bird's obsession with the case, but it's also about the harsh history of the land where the man vanished, how it was flooded and remade, first by an uncaring federal government and then again by industry. Yellow Bird teaches us that some things aren't random at all--that a crime, and its resolution, can be a product of a time and a place, and a history bringing together the people involved. --Outside magazine A powerful portrayal of an unusual sleuth whose dogged pursuit of a missing person inquiry led to justice . . . Murdoch deepens her narrative with a searing look at the deficiencies of law and order on Native American land, corruption, and the abrogation of responsibility by the federal government. Admirers of David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon will be drawn to this complex crime story with similar themes and settings. --Publishers Weekly (starred review) [A] story that expertly blends true crime, environmental drama, and family saga. For a first nonfiction work, Murdoch has outdone herself by telling the story in a beautifully narrative way. . . . Required reading for all fans of true crime. --Library Journal (starred review) Few people gave Kristopher Clarke's disappearance much thought until Lissa Yellow Bird, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation based on the Fort Berthold Reservation, made it her cause. . . . An impressive debut that serves as an eye-opening view of both the oil economy and Native American affairs. --Kirkus Reviews