The Hunt for Willie Boy: Indian-Hating and Popular Culture

The Hunt for Willie Boy: Indian-Hating and Popular Culture

by James A. Sandos
     
 

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In 1909 a sensational double killing in Southern California led to what has been called the West's last famous manhunt. According to contemporary (white) newspapers, an Indian named Willie Boy killed his potential father-in-law in a fit of drunken lust, kidnapped his intended, and fled with her on foot across the desert. They were pursued by several posses, and when

Overview

In 1909 a sensational double killing in Southern California led to what has been called the West's last famous manhunt. According to contemporary (white) newspapers, an Indian named Willie Boy killed his potential father-in-law in a fit of drunken lust, kidnapped his intended, and fled with her on foot across the desert. They were pursued by several posses, and when the girl slowed his flight, Willie Boy heartlessly raped and murdered her, finally killing himself after a shoot-out with a posse.

James A. Sandos and Larry E. Burgess correct the story of Willie Boy, a Paiute-Chemehuevi Indian, by weaving in previously unheard Indian voices to explain his motivations and actions and to present a more balanced retelling.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In 1909, before a manhunt that ended with his suicide, Willie Boy, a California Paiute-Chemehuevi accused of murdering his fiancee's father and then kidnapping and killing her, exemplified to whites their belief that Indians could not be ``civilized.'' Historians Sandos and Burgess reveal the Indian-hating underlying the numerous versions of the Willie Boy story, including that of writer Harry Lawton and the 1969 Hollywood movie Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here . Comparing the various accounts, the authors employ ethnographic research of Chemehuevi culture, ethnohistory, and oral history to unravel the mystery, reconstruct the events, and present the Indian perspectives. In so doing, they recover Willie Boy's ``song.'' Strongly recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Charles L. Lumpkins, Bloomsburg Univ. Lib., Pa.
Booknews
In 1909, southern California launched a manhunt for Willie Boy, a Paiute-Chemehuevi Indian, who was believed to have killed his fiancee's father, kidnapped his fiancee, and then murdered her as well. The authors draw on Indian voices and use three disciplines--history, ethnohistory, and literary analysis--in their attempt to recover the events and motivation of Willie Boy's real story from the versions created by the white press and subsequent novel and film depictions. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780806128436
Publisher:
University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date:
09/15/1996
Pages:
204
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.47(d)

Meet the Author

James A. Sandos is Professor of History at the University of Redlands and the author of Rebellion in the Borderlands: Anarchism and the Plan of San Diego, 1904-1923, also published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Larry E. Burgess, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Claremont Graduate School, is Library Director in the A.K. Smiley Public Library at Redlands, California.

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