Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

This text really is a heart-burying/heart-breaking history of the Native Americans from the middle to end of the nineteenth century. My friend warned me that I would cry. And I did, as I read Ch. 4 “War Comes to the Cheyennes” and read the horrifying description of the Sand Creek Massacre. It was one of many scenes of merciless slaughter – another Native American town wiped out (men, women, and children) by the military in an unprovoked attack.

Each chapter in the book is dedicated to the various Native American groups of the time. Each story is just as depressing as the next. Even as a few Native American tribes, like the Sioux and Cheyenne in “Chapter 12: The War for the Black Hills,” seemed to have preserved their freedom and way of life, in the end, their story ended just the same. Many were murdered, and the rest were forced into a reservation in a rough, completely foreign land. Native Americans were relegated to the land that nobody else wanted – pushed, pulled, hoodwinked, until the US government gave the westbound settlers all the land they wanted. Many Native Americans were removed from even these undesirable allotments if prospectors found any valuable natural resources there. An unnamed chief remarked, “I think you had better put the Indians on wheels, and you can run them about whenever you wish.”

As someone who wondered: “What on Earth happened to the Native Americans?”, this book was truly an eye-opener for me. I realize that no book is without bias, but the history of America has only been told from one side (or not told at all!), and Dee Brown is successful in giving the Native Americans a voice. I recommend the illustrated version. It’s great for a visual person like me, and it breaks up the weighty text. The Native Americans have been wronged over and over and the story is not over. The injustice continues to this day. The book has inspired me to learn more about current Native American reservations.

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