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Yellow Bird

Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country
Jul 30, 2021PimaLib_NormS rated this title 4 out of 5 stars
Perhaps it is wrong to generalize, but compared to the soft, cushy life many of us live, life on the New Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota seems incredibly difficult. Before the oil boom hit in 2008, the opportunities for betterment were few, the poverty was grinding, the nothingness was vast. After the discovery of oil under the rez, one would think life should have gotten better. One would be wrong. Big piles of oil money brought some improvements, but it also brought another kind of nothingness, and large increases in crime, violence, drugs, and corruption. A certain toughness is bred into those with roots there. Lissa Yellow Bird is one of those tough individuals. She is the focus of Sierra Crane Murdoch’s meticulously researched book – “Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country”. Lissa Yellow Bird has lived on and off the rez, seemingly lost between tomorrow and yesterday. Often, she chased her addictions rather than care for her five children. She eventually wound up in prison for her drug crimes. To her credit, she got clean and has tried to rebuild and bring meaning and purpose to her life. Lissa became obsessed with the mysterious disappearance of Kristopher Clarke, a young, white oil worker. It does not take a huge leap of imagination to realize that Lissa latched on to the Kristopher Clarke case with the hope of finding a bit of cosmic redemption for the wrongs she had done. Plus, believing that someone possibly got away with murder, she felt compelled to seek justice for the victim and his family when no one else would. “Yellow Bird” is not the uplifting, heartwarming tale of a heroically noble Native American woman selflessly crossing the racial and cultural divide to find a missing white man she had never met, and that no one seemed to miss. This book is actually about a complicated woman navigating her way through her complicated life.