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

Ray A. March. Bison, $27.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-4962-1756-1
March (River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River) details in this searing account the case of Cherie Rhoades, the first woman tried for mass murder in the United States. Rhoades, who met the legal requirements to be considered a Native American but was not raised as one, was 24 in 1969 when she and some relatives took up the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ invitation to move to Cedarville Rancheria in Northern California, a reservation for the Northern Paiutes, whose traditions they knew nothing about. Rhoades, who received free housing and a quarterly payment from the tribe’s casino profits, soon gained a reputation as a bully. She joined the Northern Paiute executive committee, from which she was kicked off after being accused of embezzling tribal funds. The tribe voted to evict her from her home, but, at the hearing on Feb. 19, 2014, Rhoades showed up with two pistols and opened fire, killing four people, three of them relatives. In 2017, she was found guilty of murder and attempted murder, and sentenced to death. After a moratorium on executions in 2019, she sits on death row today. This portrait of a flawed woman driven to commit a heinous crime makes for fascinating reading. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/14/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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