Mass Murder in California's Empty Quarter
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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.
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