Upcoming Event: Robert McNally & Ray March in Conversation with UNP Editor Matt Bokovoy

Join Francie and Finch Bookstore for the virtual event “Writing and Reporting Nowhere into Somewhere with Robert McNally and Ray March in conversation with University of Nebraska Press Editor Matt Bokovoy” via Zoom on May 18, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. CST.

Register for this event here!

The Modoc War: A Story of Genocide at the Dawn of America’s Gilded Age by Robert McNally

On a cold, rainy dawn in late November 1872, Lieutenant Frazier Boutelle and a Modoc Indian nicknamed Scarface Charley leveled firearms at each other. Their duel triggered a war that capped a decades-long genocidal attack emblematic of the United States’ conquest of Native America’s peoples and lands. Robert Aquinas McNally tells the wrenching story of the Modoc War of 1872-73, one of the nation’s costliest campaigns against North American Indigenous peoples, in which the army placed nearly one thousand soldiers in the field against some fifty-five Modoc fighters.

Although little known today, the Modoc War dominated national headlines for an entire year. Fought in south-central Oregon and northeastern California, the war settled into a siege in the desolate Lava Beds and climaxed the decades-long effort to dispossess and destroy the Modocs. The war did not end with the last shot fired, however. For the first and only time in U.S. history, Native fighters were tried and hanged for war crimes. The surviving Modocs were packed into cattle cars and shipped from Fort Klamath to the corrupt, disease-ridden Quapaw reservation in Oklahoma, where they found peace even more lethal than war.

The Modoc War tells the forgotten story of a violent and bloody Gilded Age campaign at a time when the federal government boasted officially of a “peace policy” toward Indigenous nations. This compelling history illuminates a dark corner in our country’s past.  

Mass Murder in California’s Empty Quarter: A Tale of Tribal Treachery at the Cedarville Rancheria by Ray March

Mass Murder in California’s Empty Quarter exposes a story of mass murder, a community’s racism, and tribal treachery in a small Paiute tribe. On February 20, 2014, an unseasonably warm winter day for the little agriculture town of Alturas, California, Cherie Rhoades walked into the Cedarville Rancheria’s Paiute tribal offices. In the space of nine minutes she killed four people and wounded two others using two 9mm semiautomatic handguns. In that time she slayed half of her immediate family and became only the second woman, and the first Native American woman, to commit mass murder in the United States.  Ray A. March threads the story through the afternoon of the murders and explores the complex circumstances that led to it, including conditions of extreme economic disparity, privations resulting from tribal disenrollment, ineptness at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and family dysfunction coupled with a possible undiagnosed mental illness. This account of the tragic murders and the deplorable conditions leading up to them shed light on the formidable challenges Native Americans face in the twenty-first century as they strive to govern themselves under the guise of U.S.-sanctioned sovereignty.  

Robert Aquinas McNally is a freelance writer and editor based in Concord, California. He is the author or coauthor of nine nonfiction books, including So Remorseless a Havoc: Of Dolphins, Whales, and Men. His newest book is The Modoc War (Bison Books, 2017).

Ray A. March is an independent journalist whose articles and essays have appeared in Time, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. He is the author of several books, including Alabama Bound: Forty-Five Years inside a Prison System and River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River (Nebraska, 2012). His newest book is Mass Murder in California’s Empty Quarter (Bison Books, 2020).

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