Discipline: Literature – nonfiction

Sierra Crane Murdoch

Discipline: Literature – nonfiction
Region: Hood River, OR
MacDowell Fellowships: 2017

Sierra Crane Murdoch is a writer whose work concerns communities in the American West, particularly those tied to natural resource extraction. At MacDowell, she worked on her first book, Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country, which will be published by Random House on February 25, 2020. Part true crime, part social criticism, Yellow Bird chronicles an oil boom and a murder on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, tracing the steps of an Arikara woman, Lissa Yellow Bird, as she searches for a young white oil worker who went missing from the reservation. Crane Murdoch has reported on the oil boom in North Dakota and its impact on the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation since 2011. Her journalism and essays have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, The New Yorker online, Orion, The Atlantic, and High Country News, where she was a staff writer and contributing editor. Her work has been supported by a Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, an 11th Hour Food and Farming Fellowship, and, more recently, a visiting fellowship in the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California Berkeley. Through MacDowell, she received the Sylvia Canfield Winn Award.

Portrait by Terray Sylvester



Sierra Crane Murdoch worked in the Sprague-Smith studio.

In January of 1976, the original Sprague-Smith Studio — built in 1915–1916 and funded by music students of Mrs. Charles Sprague-Smith of the Veltin School — was destroyed by fire. Redesigned by William Gnade, Sr., a Peterborough builder, the fieldstone structure was rebuilt the same year from the foundation up, reusing the original fieldstone. A few…

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