The Only One Living to Tell

The Only One Living to Tell

The Autobiography of A Yavapai Indian

Book - 2012
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Mike Burns--born Hoomothya--was around eight years old in 1872 when the US military murdered his family and as many as seventy-six other Yavapai men, women, and children in the Skeleton Cave Massacre in Arizona. One of only a few young survivors, he was adopted by an army captain and ended up serving as a scout in the US army and adventuring in the West. Before his death in 1934, Burns wrote about the massacre, his time fighting in the Indian Wars during the 1880s, and life among the Kwevkepaya and Tolkepaya Yavapai. His precarious position between the white and Native worlds gives his account a distinctive narrative voice.

Because Burns was unable to find a publisher during his lifetime, these firsthand accounts of history from a Native perspective remained unseen through much of the twentieth century, archived at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott. Now Gregory McNamee has brought Burns's text to life, making this extraordinary tale an accessible and compelling read. Generations after his death, Mike Burns finally gets a chance to tell his story.

This autobiography offers a missing piece of Arizona history--as one of the only Native American accounts of the Skeleton Cave Massacre--and contributes to a growing body of history from a Native perspective. It will be an indispensable tool for scholars and general readers interested in the West--specifically Arizona history, the Apache wars, and Yavapai and Apache history and lifeways.


Publisher: Tucson, AZ : University of Arizona Press, c2012.
ISBN: 9780816501205
0816501203
Branch Call Number: BIO BURNS BURNS
Characteristics: x, 179 p. : ill., map ; 23 cm.
Additional Contributors: McNamee, Gregory

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AquaSabi Aug 23, 2015

It's great to have a read from the perspective of an Indigenous man from this era. I was surprised by the lack of emotion in the telling considering what the author went through including all his family members being killed. He relates his encounters in a rather straight-forward almost detached manner from the massacre of his people, capture and his joining with the army. There likely was quite a bit of editing from the original writing of Mike Burns. While I was glad to have an opportunity to read this, after reading it I did not finding the telling to be particularly unique.

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