The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska–Pine Ridge Border Towns (Plains Histories)

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9780896726345: The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska–Pine Ridge Border Towns (Plains Histories)

The long-intertwined communities of the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation and the bordering towns in Sheridan County, Nebraska, mark their histories in sensational incidents and quiet human connections, many recorded in detail here for the first time. After covering racial unrest in the remote northwest corner of his home state of Nebraska in 1999, journalist Stew Magnuson returned four years later to consider the larger questions of its peoples, their paths, and the forces that separate them. Examining Raymond Yellow Thunder’s death at the hands of four white men in 1972, Magnuson looks deep into the past that gave rise to the tragedy. Situating long-ranging repercussions within 130 years of context, he also recounts the largely forgotten struggles of American Indian Movement activist Bob Yellow Bird and tells the story of Whiteclay, Nebraska, the controversial border hamlet that continues to sell millions of cans of beer per year to the “dry” reservation. Within this microcosm of cultural conflict, Magnuson explores the odds against community's power to transcend misunderstanding, alcoholism, prejudice, and violence.“Like all good stories, The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder spins against the way it drives. Even as the people of Sheridan County despise, scorn, exploit, assault, and kill one another, their lives, like objects slipping out of control, become more and more inseparable. Indians and whites coexist and, against all odds, somehow get along, sharing space they really don’t want to share. This countercurrent is the source of the many unexpected stories Magnuson brings forth.” —Pekka Hämäläinen, from the foreword

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About the Author:

A native of Omaha and a graduate of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Stew Magnuson is a Washington, D.C.–based journalist and former foreign correspondent who has filed stories from Mali, Japan, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Indonesia. He has traveled or lived in forty-five countries, including the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, where he served in the Peace Corps, and Peshawar, Pakistan, where he worked with Afghan refugees in the late 1980s. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.Pekka Hämäläinen is associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and specializes in borderlands and Native American history. He is the author of The Comanche Empire.


"The book is a model of how local and regional history can and should be written."
--W. David Baird, Journal of American History

"In terms of artistry, [the book] is a grand sweep of history told in the best tradition of literary journalism. Border town inhabitants come to life and past and present merge seamlessly."
--Carol Berry, Indian Country Today

"Stew Magnuson expertly weaves together threads of sound historical research with social mythology and contemporary politics to produce an intriguing historical overview..." --Roger Davis, Nebraska History

"From readers looking for an informative read that flows like a well-written novel to researchers seeking information, this text is a valuable source."
--Jeanette Palmer, Studies in American Indian Literature

"Stew Magnuson provides a riveting and intricately textured retelling of a dreadful murder and its long history." --Daniel M. Cobb, The Western Historical Quarterly

"Stew Magnuson has done some mighty digging through hard rock and turned up a lode of rich ore. The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder adds importantly to our too slight record of the ugly modern racism against American Indians." -- Steve Hendricks "author of The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country"

"In a short space of time [Magnuson] came not only to know the people, but also to portray them as real, live people with their faults as well as their good sides." -- Tim Giago "founder of The Lakota Times, Indian Country Today, and the Dakota/Lakota Journal"

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