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.
Hidden in archives for decades and now expertly brought to light by writer and editor McNamee, Burns’ memoir is a compelling account of Indian-white relations during the tumultuous pre-reservation years.
What gives this memoir its peerless value is the potency and immediacy of the observations.
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.