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Bootheel Man: A Novel

Morley Swingle

Finalist in the 2008 William Rockhill Nelson Award
Publication: November 2007
Pages: 424

When Allison Culbertson takes the case of Joey Red Horse, an Osage Indian charged with stealing a sacred artifact from the Heartland Mound Builder Museum, she finds herself in the middle of a courtroom battle pitting contemporary American Indians against a private museum over legal rights to the bones of “Bootheel Man,” a Native American who lived, fought, and loved Cahokia and Southeast Missouri in the year 1050. Morley Swingle combines the historical mystery of the disappearance of 30,000 souls who inhabited Cahokia ten centuries ago with a contemporary murder mystery and legal thriller in a suspenseful story combining history, law, and fiction.


“This exciting and clever tale adeptly entertains and educates about the serious and dangerous problem of desecration of sacred tribal cultural items. Attorney Swingle takes us from a dramatic present-day crime, back in time to 1050 Cahokia to introduce readers to the artist Gazing Woman and chunkey-player Thunder Runner, then back again to the present and the indigenous people who try to protect ancestral remains. Learning about the passion and tenacity of the Old Ones while they were a living man and woman, rather than simply as ‘artifacts’ to be studied, displayed, or sold on the black market, elevates the story to an important, personal level.” Devon Mihesuah, Cora Lee Beers Price Professor, University of Kansas

“Move over Tony Hillerman—Morley Swingle has transformed the contemporary over deep American history into a page-turning tale that I couldn’t put down. As a professional museum archaeologist, I found Bootheel Man to be a nuanced appreciation of the reburial and repatriation issues now playing out across this country. Swingle is a true storyteller. The conflicts are real and so are Swingle’s characters—no wooden Indians here.” David Hurst Thomas, Curator of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History

About the Artist

Gina Gray is widely respected as one of the finest contemporary Native American artists working today. A member of the Osage tribe, she is recognized as a master artist whose work has won virtually every major award in the Indian art world. Renowned as a printmaker and painter, her innovative style and colorful works are featured in magazines, books, films, and public and private collections. Her honors include an appointment by the Secretary of Interior as a Commissioner for the Indian Arts and Crafts Board in Washington DC. Her work has been featured in a one-woman exhibit at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico; in the collection of the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and in the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. She won the 70th Annual Santa Fe Indian Market Fellowship Award from the Southwest American Indian Art Association.

Gina Gray graduated from the Institute of American Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and attended the California Institute of the Arts where she studied as a commercial artist.

Gina Gray lives in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, where she recently opened Gray Ink Studios, an art studio and teaching center. She is the mother of two and the grandmother of three.

Morley Swingle is the prosecuting attorney of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. He has prosecuted nearly 70 homicide cases and tried over 120 jury trials, some featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline, and Forensic Files. His historical mystery/thriller The Gold of Cape Girardeau, winner of the 2005 Governor’s Book Award from the Missouri Humanities Council was praised as “absorbing courtroom drama” by Elmore Leonard. His true crime/humor Scoundrels to the Hoosegow: Perry Mason Moments and Entertaining Cases from the Files of a Prosecuting Attorney was hailed as “engrossing” and “highly recommended” by Vincent Bugliosi.


Trade Paperback, $19.00
ISBN: 978-0-09798714-4-3

Cloth, $35.00
ISBN: 978-0-09798714-3-6