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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian…

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (original 1970; edition 1971)

by Dee Brown

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5,96174701 (4.26)265
Title:Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
Authors:Dee Brown
Info:Holt, Rinehart and Winston (1971), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 487 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:NON-CIRCULATING, from Hackley Public Library

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (1970)


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A historical account of the "Indian Wars," or the interaction of the United States and Native American tribes of the West between 1860 and 1890, as perhaps would have been told from the Native American perspective.

The author gives an overview of what happened around the world for each year under discussion, and pieces together the various tragic interactions between Native Americans and the US Army. One quickly learns how the Native Americans are despised and treated terribly; justification is never offered for some of their behaviors, but they are put in better context and thus more comprehensible. What fails to be justifiable is the treachery, betrayal, and genocidal tendencies that marked the United States Army in its relations with the Native Americans.

You learn to expect that every treaty will be dishonored or "re-negotiated" to the harm of the Natives. You learn how corrupt profiteers in the Indian Affairs bureau won large contracts and sent rotten food, making a lot of money but proving responsible for the deaths of countless Natives. You learn how people who want to be left alone and to maintain their integrity are dehumanized and herded like cattle when not slaughtered, and yet these are the people called the "savages," and those who perpetrated such injustices claimed to be bringing "civilization."

A powerful reckoning with a shameful part of American heritage; a work every American citizen should read and on which they should reflect. ( )
  deusvitae | Mar 14, 2018 |
You knew how this story was going to go before page 1: US leaders make promises, break promises, then slaughter any Native American who has the nerve to be upset by this. But, even knowing this before starting the book, I was still amazed at some of the tactics used by government leaders in order to accomplish their goals. I appreciated the timeline at the beginning of each chapter to help gain a little perspective of when these events were happening. I also appreciated the first-hand stories provided from primary sources. I wish there had been more information given about the first Indian Bureau Chief that was actually a Native American (under President Grant). Overall, an interesting, and saddening read. I learned a lot from this book. ( )
  jguidry | Nov 21, 2017 |
39. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee : An Indian History of the American West (Audio) by Dee Brown
reader: Grover Gardner
published: 1970 (with preface from 2000)
format: Overdrive digital audio, 14:21 (~398 pages)
acquired: Library
listened: Sep 12-27
rating: 4

I know the record with Native Americans in the US is bad, really bad, but still, this leaves a discouraging and strong impression.

So I picked this from library after recently doing a quick search for books on Native Americans (while driving through South Dakota and the Black Hills and 5000 miles of other places), and this book came up lot and was first on many lists, and it has a memorable title. So actually when I saw it on my library's audio list, I was really excited.

I don't know what I was expecting, but I was surprised by Grove Gardner's old documentary-serious voice that I usually associate with stodgy old history books and, well, old TV documentaries. And then I was surprised by how much this book resembles a stodgy old history book. It just lays out the facts, and sticks to well-known well-documented info. It's a straightforward narrative. There is no analysis and no exploration of the surrounding stories. No penetrating insight into Native American culture - or even an effort at trying to do that. And then I was surprised at the limited scope. The first chapter takes place in the 1840's, but mostly this book is about a short era from 1860 to roughly 1890 - the era when the Indians on the Great Plains were wiped out, survivors sent to starve on reservations. So, early on I was kind of discouraged by what it might cover.

But the book carries on, grinding from tribe to destroyed tribe, from massacre to massacre. The old and young die off from exposure, massacres or starvation in reservations. The warriors, hopeless from page one, try many different strategies, but they are all, every one hopeless. The leadership of each tribe tried to find their own way to manage white incursion, attacks, massacres and oppression, all were left desperate and all saw their tribes brought down, until eventually survivors were starved on a reservation.

The repetitive nature leaves a mark. Each native tribe was forced by desperation to fight, waging a short brutal vengeance on the US military and then succumbing to complete defeat. Every native victory was a Pyrrhic one, especially that of Crazy Horse over Custer - one of many unprovoked US attacks on native villages of women, elderly and children. Custer was done, but the Sioux were left without ammunition and unable to fight further.

No tribe will remain free, none will keep any of the land they want and need, and all faced, eventually, massive die-offs. And this happens over time, tribe by tribe, relentlessly - Santee Sioux, Navajo, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, Nez Perce, Ute, Paiute, Oglala Sioux, other Sioux, Modoc, etc

One big thing that struck me was how the reservations were such a death trap. Once there, tribes withered from exposure and lack of food, their numbers whittled away right in front of the Americans responsible for supplying them. The supply train was mainly a source of profit and mass corruption for the suppliers with often little or nothing actually supplied. I hadn't realized this.

While this was not really the book I was looking for, it has its place as a classic and it has importance in the weight of injustice - and it's just one window, all perpetuated over just one small well-documented era, in plain sight. There is no mist of history here. ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Oct 3, 2017 |
Among the histories Dee Brown recounts in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee are ones telling of men forced by duty or occupation to get to know individual Indians for the first time, with results far different from what they had ever thought possible. Moments of enlightenment, in other words.

An example:
Major Edward W. Wynkoop decided to go with his small command of 127 mounted troops to meet with over 2000 Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Sioux to exchange two Indian prisoners for the seven prisoners held by the Indians. The soldiers and their two prisoners, One-Eye and Eagle Head, traveled together five days to where the exchange was made.
At the outset of the journey, Brown writes of Wynkoop:
He told them they would be serving asboth guides and hostages for the expedition. “At the first sign of treachery from your people,” Wynkoop warned them, “I will kill you.”
“The Cheyennes do not break their word,” One-Eye replied. “If they should do so, I would not care to live longer.”

Wynkoop said afterward thathis conversations with the two Cheyennes on this march caused him to change his long-held opinions of Indians. “I felt myself in the presence of superior beings; and these were the representatives of a race that I heretofore looked upon without exception as being cruel, treacherous, and bloodthirsty without feeling or affection for friend or kindred.”

Bury My Heart is an engaging book, accomplished in a workmanlike way except that the author did less to document statements in his Notes section than I would like. The book includes fine photos of several Chiefs. No maps, unfortunately.

In the long-ago youth of my life, the term “Indian giver” was popular, at least among us children. I haven’t heard it in decades. We understood it to mean that an Indian would give someone something but then take it back. Bury My Heart makes clear it’d be difficult to create a crueler or more ironic piece of propaganda. ( )
  dypaloh | Sep 26, 2017 |
The map of the United States is scattered with the names of our continent's original peoples. In many cases this is all that remains of them. By the 1860s, when this book's detailed coverage of their story begins, native populations were long accustomed to European abuses. Even so, those still occupying western ancestral territory disbelieved anything could truly happen to remove them from land so open and spacious. Many could not conceptualize how hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned they were. Most signficantly they did not have the same sense of land ownership as those who sought to take it from them, or an understanding of the rampant desire for it that continually drove their opposition to lie, to steal and to kill.

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 clichéd 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. ( )
1 vote Cecrow | Apr 3, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dee Brownprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knipscheer, JosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sides, HamptonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.

- (Stephen Vincent Benét)
Ik zal daar niet zijn. Ik zal mij oprichten en heengaan. Begraaf mijn hart bij de bocht van de rivier. (Stephen Vincent Benet)
For Nicolas Brave Wolf
First words
It began with Christopher Columbus, who gave the people the name Indios.
Americans who have always looked westward when reading about this period should read this book facing eastward.
Now they were all good Indians.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
There is also an adaptation of this book "for young people" by Amy Erhlich with the same title and Dee's name listed as author. ISBNs for the adaptation have been identified as 0006713416, 0030915597, 0440957680, 0606029982, 0701122366, 0785712712, 0805027009, 9780006713418, 9780030915598, 9780440957683, 9780606029988, 9780701122362, 9780785712718, 9780805027006. Please do not combine the adaptation with the original full-length book.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805066691, Paperback)

First published in 1970, this extraordinary book changed the way Americans think about the original inhabitants of their country. Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos in 1860 and ending 30 years later with the massacre of Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, it tells how the American Indians lost their land and lives to a dynamically expanding white society. During these three decades, America's population doubled from 31 million to 62 million. Again and again, promises made to the Indians fell victim to the ruthlessness and greed of settlers pushing westward to make new lives. The Indians were herded off their ancestral lands into ever-shrinking reservations, and were starved and killed if they resisted. It is a truism that "history is written by the victors"; for the first time, this book described the opening of the West from the Indians' viewpoint. Accustomed to stereotypes of Indians as red savages, white Americans were shocked to read the reasoned eloquence of Indian leaders and learn of the bravery with which they and their peoples endured suffering. With meticulous research and in measured language overlaying brutal narrative, Dee Brown focused attention on a national disgrace. Still controversial but with many of its premises now accepted, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has sold 5 million copies around the world. Thirty years after it first broke onto the national conscience, it has lost none of its importance or emotional impact. --John Stevenson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:21 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown's eloquent, fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century. A national bestseller in hardcover for more than a year after its initial publication, it has sold almost four million copies and has been translated into seventeen languages. For this elegant thirtieth anniversary hardcover edition, Brown has contributed an incisive new preface. Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated. A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee changed forever our vision of how the West was really won.… (more)

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