The Morning the Sun Went Down

Winner of the 1999 PEN Oakland–Josephine Miles Literary Award

Through this lyrical and richly textured memoir we experience both the beauty and the struggles of Darryl Babe Wilson’s journey through childhood. Born into the Achumawi and Atsugewi tribes (often called the Pit River Nation) of northeastern California, Wilson spent his early years with his family in a life rich in tradition, until tragic events forced him to learn to survive among the assimilation policies of the 1950s. In The Morning the Sun Went Down, Wilson infuses stories of youthful innocence and experience with his spiritual journey that echoes across generations.


“[An] altogether extraordinary memoir of rural Native American life.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


“[Wilson's] heartfelt recollections take us on a vivid personal journey to a place few of us will have visited—and none will soon forget.”—Booklist


“The storytelling here is powerful.”—Greg Sarris, tribal chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and author of Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream


“A gripping story that will change the way we think about Native California people of the past and present.”—Clifford E. Trafzer (Wyandot), Distinguished Professor of History and Costo Chair in Native American Studies, UC Riverside


“One of the most unique and memorable autobiographies I’ve ever read.”—Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki), author of Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture, and Values through Storytelling

About the Author

Darryl Babe WilsonA gifted poet, writer, and storyteller, as well as a cultural and political activist, Darryl Babe Wilson (1939–2014) earned a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona at Tucson. His essays, stories, and poems were published in News from Native California, The Way We Lived: California Indian Stories, Songs, and Reminiscences (Heyday, 1993), and The Sound of Rattles and Clappers: A Collection of New California Indian Writing (University of Arizona Press, 1994), and he coedited Surviving in Two Worlds: Contemporary Native American Voices (University of Texas Press, 1997). Wilson taught Native American Studies at de Anza College and at California State University, Hayward.