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Download Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West epub

by Dee Brown

Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota Ute, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, and borken treaties that left them defeated.
Download Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West epub
ISBN: 0030862108
ISBN13: 978-0030862106
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Contemporary
Author: Dee Brown
Language: English
Publisher: Holt Rinehart Winston (January 1, 1971)
Pages: 487 pages
ePUB size: 1826 kb
FB2 size: 1508 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 635
Other Formats: rtf mbr lrf rtf

Before Howard Zinn and his "people's history...", Brown composed this masterpiece of truth telling. Far from a vague account of noble savages, this is a telling of what white supremacy and manifest destiny cost the Native tribes here. It is fraught with a cruel, straight forward redundancy about the making of these United States. The West was not won but stolen--with massacres, forced marches, broken treaties, outright lies, unceasing dehumanization, determined injustice, and the deliberate dissolution of many indigenous civilizations. The brokenness of the reservation, generally, and sad plight of many descendants who remain is not at all mysterious.

This book is not a page turner, though it is interesting. Honestly, it's often difficult to read the accounts of treachery upon treachery. Yet, it is as important as anything I've read about the fallout of European colonialism, capitalism before humanity, and the making of this nation. The accounts are straightforward and never maudlin, yet I cannot imagine reading it carefully without sorrow or finishing it without a more thoughtful, critical view of US history. Bitter medicine.
Indeed it was heartbreaking; I thought I had been given quite a detailed, liberal, truthful education about the late 1800's in America in a great high school (I was lucky enough to live in a tiny Chicago suburb which got included with several large wealthy towns). I know I got even more detail and some broader facts (WHY were so many millions pouring into North America from Europe just then, putting so much pressure on the federal government, and then on the American Indians?). I even got to know a number of Indians during my first job , right out of Law School, in a small 2- lawyer firm, because my boss was determined not to let any Indian (most of them near our city were Menominiee or Oneida) go without legal representation when charged with a crime, and many of them were "working poor," just a hair over the "poverty line" for Public Defender (state-paid) attorneys. He never charged them anything for his or my work, and if the charge was a felony which occurred on their reservation, it was automatically a federal crime and handled in U.S. District Trial Court. That meant traveling three hour each way to Milwaukee for each court hearing. We talked a lot, about old times, their parents, grandparents, ancestors from before white settlers arrived in Wisconsin - stories were handed down for decades, often with sketches on skins, since the 1600's. This was a real eye-opener to me; I couldn't understand how they could be so polite to us whites. One man who was Tribal Court Judge (for non-felony crimes on the res.) laughed when I said that and said "Honey, we don't have any other choice."

Then, last week, I read "Bury My Heart..." I thought I had read the worst stuff, but I had not; in this beutifully-researched book, I read of the most inexcusable atrocities, read of the repeated land-grabs and treaty-breaking moves whenever gold, silver, water, or simply more land was desired. I knew that horrible things happened because there was no respect for the signed government contracts (treaties) or the general ethics and morals in the treatment of the millions of mostly-peaceable people who whose sole "crime" was to be here in North America first. I never knew, however, how direct the President and many Generals, such as Sheridan and then Sherman (he of the notorious and unnecessary "March to the Sea" near the end of the Civil War), constantly set up roadblocks to decent land even when tribes or sub-groups of tribes were willing to sign treaties and go to a reservation - Sherman often demanded death for chiefs as well as capitulation of all of the people under them. The famous "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" has been attributed to Gen. Sherman, as well. Brown's research brought me more surprises, in that I learned that President Grant was far more reasonable and even sympathetic to the Plains Indians than his generals, and he countermanded many orders resulting in saving the lives of well-loved Chiefs. Grant wisely appreciated that working with the chiefs would save lives, and pain of many kinds. (By the time Grant was Pres., most of the eastern and midwestern tribes had been subdued and driven onto reservations, fled to Canada, or were killed by European diseases or bullets).

The most shocking passages in this book need not be reviewed here; they are many, far more than I had ever imagined. At the slightest provocation, whole villages ( women, children, even unborn babies) were slaughtered while the adult male warriors were ready to do battle at a specific place arranged for, or at least well known by, the American troops, sometimes with paid enemy Indian agents' help. It was common, when the men came back to their village to see the horrors done to their families, for the soldiers to surround them and attack again, either to slaughter once more or take the Indians as prized slave-prisoners. Wounded Knee and Sand Creek, both named for peaceful little streams where Indians liked to set up camp, were two sites of such slaughter, and they are certainly not the only ones where any American Indian would want to bury his or her heart. What a book. Just the photographs are hauntingly beautiful. Every white American should read it. The problem is, the ones who need the education it offers the most would never, ever, read it. Too bad...
Book review: “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown

The history of colonial America is a dark one, comprising of broken promises, massacres, and land grabs. This much is clear to anyone not plagued by European and American exceptionalism. Dee Brown has done a phenomenal job at listing the plights of the Western Native Americans and their struggle against the colonizing forces which originated from various parts of Europe.

I must admit I approached the book completely wrong. It took me about 150 pages to completely understand the approach of Brown. His approach is to give an overview of the injustices, but from the perspective of the Natives. This is quite clear in the verbiage; brown uses terms such as “the Great Father,” in reference to the President of the United States, and uses terms like “ponies” in reference to horses. This shows the simplicity of the Natives; actually, it is their simplicity and lack of understanding of European cunning that is their downfall. From this perspective, the book is a literary masterpiece.

It must be said that the Natives did commit some atrocities. However, comparing the atrocities of the Europeans with the atrocities of the Natives will show that anyone who uses the war crimes of the Natives as an excuse or justification for their extinction is just deluded. The Natives committed some mistakes; however, those mistakes were created from desperation, not from choice, and from what I’ve seen, they were done in retaliation. Nonetheless, it was wrong. But, they were an anti-colonial group of people fighting for their survival and existence as a race. Natives usually fought in battles, Europeans attacked their wives and kids. Natives took hostages of women and children, but more than once, Europeans have engaged in mutilations of their captives. Alas, the Natives learned the practice of scalping from the Europeans. After all the crimes the Europeans committed, can anyone fail to see the rationalization behind the crimes of desperation committed by the Natives?

This book is topical, not necessarily spelling out the details or names of treaties agreed on between the European Americans and the Natives. Rather they are mentioned in passing. Perhaps reading another book alongside this one which talks about the specific treaties and comparing them against the dates in this book would be a good idea to have a clear understanding of the timeline. However, the topical arrangement of the book provides a decent amount of information on the major western tribes and their forced removal. The Natives simply wanted to preserve their way of life; they wanted to hunt buffalo, farm if that was their lifestyle, and raise their families in peace. This much is clear.

I give the book a 10/10 for content. It is a bit dragging towards the end as the book thins out while being a bit too repetitive in style and arrangement. However, it is still a masterpiece and a classic, providing original insights from firsthand sources (the firsthand sources are a hugely underrated part of the book.)
I read the book decades ago, but after having read "Trail of Tears" I wanted to read it again. I feel it to be a historical classic book, as it relates to the consistent mistreatment of the Native American population. I'm very pleased I bought the illustrated edition, as it adds greatly to the overall learning experience and reading enjoyment.