History. Nonfiction. HTML:The "fascinating" #1 New York Times bestseller that awakened the world to the destruction of American Indians in the nineteenth-century West (The Wall Street Journal). First published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated shockwaves with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the western frontier. In this nonfiction account, Dee Brown focuses on the betrayals, battles, and massacres suffered by American Indians between 1860 and 1890. He tells of the many tribes and their renowned chiefsâ??from Geronimo to Red Cloud, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horseâ??who struggled to combat the destruction of their people and culture. Forcefully written and meticulously researched, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee inspired a generation to take a second look at how the West was won. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dee Brown including rare photos from the author's personal colle
Despite the depressing nature of the book and stopping mid-way to read Harry
How can you enjoy a book like this? Sure, I like History as much as the next guy (probably more), and I have always known that what the white settlers and the US Government have done to the Indians* was horrible and reprehensible. I know that what I've learned until now is one-sided: it's the same old story - "History is written by the victors". So going into this, I thought I'd be disturbed and saddened, but probably not surprised.
This book made me realize a few things about myself and prejudices and skepticism. So, my ugly middle-class-white-privilege shows through. And I hate that. I feel ill typing that. But there's nothing I can do: if I ignore it, it remains and I remain a product of my freaking aristocratic roots. If I try to work past it, I have to deal with it and its ugliness. It's no-win.
I found myself being skeptical of what I was reading as I read it. Cold hard facts are hard to deny. e.g.: These people and those people fought, those people lost 30% of their warriors and these people imprisoned the rest. Those are the kinds of things that I can relate to on a purely logical level. But when dialogue and characterization is introduced, I start to lose my even perception a bit. I thought that Dee Brown was slanting it the other direction, going on and on about the white people's trickery, theivery, and murder; and portraying the Indians as simple pacifists who never retaliated, or even provoked a little trickery, theivery, and murder themselves. Reading something that I know is slanted usually bothers me. Reading somthing that I know is slanted against what I have been taught bothers me a lot, and that made me approach this book with a stand-offish attitute. As the book went on I like to think that I started to lose that attitude...or maybe I just became desensitized to the atrocities Dee Brown was describing. They never use the word "genocide" in the book, but the word "extermination" was tossed around a few times. I guess "genocide" was too human a term for the white settlers and Government to apply to the Indians.
I did a bit of research as I went along. I went to the internet and some image databases to see if any images existed of Red Cloud, Kicking Bird, Sitting Bull, whomever I was reading about. It was hard for me to realize that this didn't happen that long ago. This might be something obvious to most people, but I'm a student of Classical History. When I hear "long ago", we're talking 2,000 years. This is within just a handful of generations. The book covers just 30 years: 1860-1890. That's all it took and the continent was drastically changed. Entire nations were wiped out. People were herded and scattered. They never saw their homes again. Their children died. Not just their people, but their way of life was attacked. This all happened within the last 150 years.
"California Indians were gentle as the climate in which they lived. The Spaniards gave them names, established missions for them, converted and debauched them. Tribal organizations were undeveloped among the California indians; each village had its leaders, but there were no great war chiefs among these unwarlike people. After the discovery of gold in 1848, white men from all over the world poured into California by the thousands, taking what they wanted from the submissive Indians, debasing those whome the Spaniards had not already debased, and then systematically exterminating whole populations now long forgotten. No one remembers the Chilulas, Chimarikos, Urebures, Nipewais, Alonas, or a hundred other bands whose bones have been sealed under a million miles of freeways, parking lots, and slabs of tract housing." Brown, pg.214
One day I was reading this on the bus and a Native American woman sat down next to me. I instantly felt uncomfortable and put the book away. I don't know why. I havent' sat and thought about that.
So, here I am, not sure what to think. I am glad that I read this book, even though it revealed things about my country's recent history and about myself that I was relatively blissfully unaware of.
*PC? Not PC? That's what they refer to themselves as throughout the book, so I'm using it here, within context.
By 1860 the die was cast for the native peoples of the Plains. The railroad was coming, the buffalo on
Highest recommendation. Very well-written and essential.
Two things probablly kept me from being locked away in a looney bin after that. The first was that I was only 16 years old and 16 year olds of course are able to act silly, socially awkward or whatever, without getting thrown in a looney bin. The second thing was that I would have an accomplice, a peace-loving hippy chick that thought in abstractions and spoke in poems. Together we began our quest to live the Indian Way...
This is a book that everyone should take the time to read. There is so much more information in this book then in any American History book you will ever read. We owe those Indians a lot. As I was reading the book I was talking to my husband's one uncle and he said that I would be shocked by the truth. He was right. And to think that all these years I never knew what I know now. I am glad to say that my kids are part Indian/Native American on their father's side. My son has been told that he looks like a Native American even with is red hair and blue eyes.
I loved this book and I am going to be looking for more books about Indians/Native American.
Dee Brownâ€™s Bury My Heart at Wounded
In narrating one tragedy after another, Brown adopts a native voice. Whites are described by their native titles and names. Thus, a colonel is an â€śEagle Chiefâ€ť and a general is a â€śStar Chiefâ€ť; Nelson Miles is â€śBear Coatâ€ť, William Sherman is â€śGreat Warriorâ€ť, and Oliver Howard is â€śOld Man of the Thunderâ€ť; the President is The Great Father, and Congress is The Great Council. Similarly, time gets native terms â€“ â€śCorn Planting Timeâ€ť, â€śMoon When Leaves Fall Offâ€ť, â€śGeese Going Moonâ€ť. This might seem an affectation, but it worked for me â€“ made me think in a different way.
And Brown acknowledges that now and then a white was honest â€“ Star Chief Gray Wolf Crook gets some praise in his dealings with the Chiricahua. And now and then a native is acknowledged as a savage â€“ Victorio is described as a â€śruthless killerâ€ť who tortured and killed. And itâ€™s also acknowledged that Native Americans and whites often tended to behave the same way; if a Cheyenne (for example) wanted revenge, it was often taken on the first white encountered â€“ and similarly innocent Cheyenne were massacred for actions they didnâ€™t commit.
Rather depressing reading; I knew some of these stories from general study of American history but having them all collected and hammered home one after another is almost overwhelming. Recommended.
to wilt, Dee Brown reconstructs the history of the removal of Indians
from their lands by a careful examination of contemporary documents.
Curiously, even the "white man's" own compilations of the Indian's experience -- soldiers'
journalists, and a wealth of State and US Government materials -- prove
that Indians were cheated, defrauded, and imprisoned on remote reservations by means of force. [Bibliography with Notes, and Index] We also note that this "point of view" of the Indians was gentle, prescient, and rational.
Although Brown omits many reliable source documents -- for example he does not reference the accounts by Ely Parker (Donehogawa), reform
Senator Henry Dawes, and the Sioux physician Eastman and his wife, Elaine Goodale -- his conclusions are all the more unimpeachable for
relying on "government" or even anti-Indian materials.
"Wounded Knee" of the title refers to the Massacre -- it was by no definition a "battle" -- of 350 unarmed people near the confluence of a
creek of that name. Chief Big
Foot was attempting to take his people the Pine Ridge reservation to join the last great chief, Red Cloud, in total surrender. 150 Indians
were slaughtered by almost point-blank carbine fire and the camp was raked by rifle-barreled Hotchkiss guns. 25 soldiers were killed and 39
wounded, almost all of them from shrapnel and carbine shot from their own cross-fire. This was the last military expedition against the
Sioux, and it has become the symbolic end of freedom in the West.
In Chapter 1, Brown provides a thumbnail overview of the American conquest of the Indians, starting from Columbus. The remainder of the book follows the Civil
War, in the period from 1860 through 1890. Brown provides a detailed history drawn from an abundance of primary source materials with the words of those who were vanquished in this 30 year period.
Although Brown covers many other nations -- the Navaho, Cheyenne, Modoc, Nez Perce', Apache -- the narrative emphasis is drawn to the
Sioux, who were the most numerous and formidable warriors of this period.
I have to admit that I thought the book would be nothing but a big â€śdownerâ€ť or worse, a propaganda piece, crying about how badly Native Americans were treated by the awful white men who stole their
While it is true that the Indians had their lands stolen and that they were lied to, cheated, and mistreated â€“ and much worse -- by the whites who dominated, the book is not just a continuous white man bashing. Although few and far between, it seems, there were some good whites and some who were bad, over time, changed from â€śbadâ€ť to â€śgood,â€ť General George Crook, for example. Not all Indians were â€śgoodâ€ť either.
The book consists of nineteen chapters and each one is indeed a tale of conquered Indians and conquering whites, covering roughly the years 1860 to 1890.
The author is not an Indian, but writes from the perspective of a sympathetic human as he relates one injustice after another that whites perpetrated upon the Indians.
The book has an index and is enhanced by the inclusion of 49 photos or paintings of Indians of the period. While I am late in reading this book, which has become a classic, I am glad to have finely read it and have it in my library.
I have to admit that I was surprised and disappointed that William F. M. Arny, appointed Indian Agent for the New Mexico Territory in 1862 by President Lincoln, and who succeeded Kit Carson, was not mentioned in the book.
Excellent narration by Grover Gardner.
The American government in Washington, distant from the frontiers, was sympathetic to their cause and often pleaded their case in fine speeches. Society at large may have regarded the native American cause as tragic but certainly lost. Settlers and prospectors on the frontier saw only free land and the natives occupying it as a dangerous hazard, disregarding every invisible line the government sought to hold them apart with. A great proportion of the military on the frontier were rabid racists who felt it their duty to exterminate the native 'threat' regardless of any peace overture or what any scrap of paper said. Make a treaty, callously disregard it until you've provoked a war, blame the "savage" natives for the violence, sue for peace via another treaty to please Washington - around and around.
Some of the policy reversals are liable to inflict whiplash where it is almost literally a case of shaking hands on the left and cocking a gun on the right. Individual outrages are horrific in their details, but it is their sheer volume that really begins to tell on the senses. The clichĂ©d homily about 'worthless treaties' undergoes a transformation: it sounds flat at the start of the book, then gathers increasing power with every instance until finally it does not even begin to speak to what continues to be done on every page. If any book can make you cheer for Custer's downfall at Little Bighorn, it'll be this one.
Some maps would have been welcome. Dee Brown's writing is plainspoken and often just-the-facts, doing very little to dress up or frame events and often omitting much examination into the "why". From a scholarly point of view this feels lacking, but it does lend some of the period's popular sense of inevitability. The writing's blunt nature can add to the force of its punch. Shortly after Sheridan's infamous quote about his believing the only good Indian is a dead one, the author simply lists with little commentary a number of famous chiefs whose stories he had sympathetically told: "Now they were all good Indians."
This is not the scholarly, literary classic that the subject matter still demands and deserves, but it is moving, essential reading.
I would love to read a book written by a really knowledgeable author that's a reimagining of history. How should the clash of the settlers and the Indians have been handled? Was there a more humane solution? Or was might makes right the only way?
The first is how little it surprised me. All crowing aside, with only a few exceptions (these mostly concerning events/personages in Arizona where I happened to live for years) I couldn't have said a particular tribe or leader was in
The second impression is a reflection of how ironic a term "illegal alien" is when used in the USA.
And finally there is this quote from the introduction: "It was an incredible era of violence, greed, audacity, sentimentality, undirected exuberance, and an almost reverential attitude toward the idea of personal freedom for those who already had it."
The life stories of the Chiefs Crazy Horse, Gall, Chief Joseph, Geronimo and Sitting Bull will be eye-openers to readers who are not familiar - with the other unfamilar
This book is upsetting, yet enlightening - squeamishness due to the information this book reveals must be put aside.
The author shows his appreiciaton of the subject matter with the evidence presented via careful research.