Photo of Donner Pass by Telstar Logistics used under a Creative Commons license.
Thomas Sanchez, Rabbit Boss (Vintage, 1989).
The first novel by Sanchez, originally published in 1973. Rabbit Boss is an epic, the story of four generations of Washo Indians living east of and in the Sierra Nevada range in Nevada and California. The first of these generations watch the progress of the Donner Party, and its descendants watch “progress” wash over the Washo, whose story is a tragedy writ large. Sanchez skips back and forth chronologically and shifts the narrative voice as he goes, all the while chronicling what was lost.
Sanchez’s web site has a bio. The web pickings are sparse, but here’s a great link: KQED ran this program about the book. John Christensen is a fan (scroll down). And James D. Houston includes Rabbit Boss in his survey of the literature of the Far West.