May 29, 2020

A Mess to Be Reckoned With

Lissa Yellow Bird searches for missing people. Cold cases, mostly. People no one else is looking for. It’s not her job, but a lot of Native Americans go missing and their cases remain unsolved, so families often ask Lissa for help. But then, Lissa’s own niece goes missing. 

Lissa Yellow Bird

Natasha Rausch / The Forum of Fargo Moorhead

Note: The internet version of this episode contains un-beeped curse words. BEEPED VERSION.


Lissa Yellow Bird started searching for missing people after an oil worker disappeared from the reservation Lissa’s from. Since then, many Native American families have asked for Lissa’s help looking for their loved ones, too. Sierra Crane Murdoch tells Ira about Lissa’s exceptional investigation work—and the hardest case Lissa’s ever worked on. (6 minutes)

Sierra's book about Lissa is called, "Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country."

Act One

When Lissa’s niece, Carla Yellow Bird, went missing in 2016, Lissa threw everything she had into figuring out what happened to her—including talking for hours on the phone with someone she suspected was involved. (27 minutes)

Act Two

Lissa knows how to read people, how to pull information out of them that others can’t. Because of this, she’s able to find out what happened to her niece in just five days. But finding out what happened doesn’t even come close to resolving anything. (23 minutes)


“I’ll Do It Myself” by Peter Harket