Native Americans Essay, Research Paper
For my book report, I chose the movie Dance With Wolves, starring Kevin Costnar. The movie was directed by Kevin Costnar and was produced by Jim Wilson and Kevin Costnar. It also stars Mary McDonnell as Stands With A Fist, and Graham Greene as Kicking Bird.
The movie takes place in the United States of America during its Civil War and begins when Lieutenant John Dunbar, played by Kevin Costnar, of the Union Army, runs away from a field hospital after his foot is about to be amputated because of a bullet wound. Rather than going through the pain of having his foot removed and having to live with only one foot for the rest of his life if he survives the operation, Dunbar decides to kill himself. He gets on his horse and makes a suicidal charge toward the Confederate lines. He rides right in front of the Confederate firing lines and miraculously survives. He is congratulated and decorated by the Union army. They give him the choice of any posting as a reward. Dunbar chooses the Frontier, and when another soldier of the Union army asks him why, he says,” I want to see it before its gone.”
In an isolated and remote part of Dakota, Dunbar sets up his outpost. He is the only white man around for miles. To keep himself
occupied, he keeps a journal and writes his daily routine. After his first encounter with the Indians, he documents the way they slowly get to know each other. Dunbar builds up his courage and tries to communicate with the Native Americans. He tries to convey buffalo by saying it in English. At first, some of the Indian warriors look at him like he s crazy, but Kicking Bird, who is the holy man of the tribe, understand what Dunbar is trying to say. After numerous tries, the finally say the word for buffalo in each others languages. As the movie progresses, Dunbar and the Indians get to know each other better. The Native Americans give Dunbar the name Dances With Wolves.
Dunbar also meet a white woman at the Native American camp. After her parents were killed, the Indians adopted her and took care of her. They had given her the name Stands With A Fist. Dunbar and her get to know each other and fall in love. Throughout the movie, Dunbar realizes that he feels more comfortable and more at home than he has ever in his life.
The Native Americans have heard stories about the white men and how they have taken over the Indians land. They ask Dunbar when and how whites are coming, and when Dunbar says, “as many as the stars in the sky”, the Indians are horrified.
At one point in the movie, Dunbar and the Indians fight with another Indian tribe. After the fight, Dunbar observes that the battle with the enemy tribe was not fought for political purposes, but for food and land.
For the accompanying book with Dances With Wolves, I chose Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History Of The American West, by Dee Brown. The book did not say anything about Brown or his history. However; Dee Brown is the author of more than twenty-five books on American history.
I believe by writing this book, Dee Brown was trying to convey what the Native Americans were really like, instead of what they were stereotyped as, and how they are portrayed by some people. ” those who read it will have a clearer understanding of what the American Indian is, by knowing what he was. They may be surprised to hear words of gentle reasonableness coming from the mouths of Indian s stereotyped in the American myth as ruthless savages.”(xix) For many years, Native Americans were thought as savages and uncivilized by the white people that were settling the west. Dee Brown is trying to change peoples perception of Indian s. ” If this book has contributed even in the slightest way, over the past twenty years, to changes in attitudes and actions, then it has been worthwhile.”(xv)
Most history books on Native Americans are written from the Americans point of view and most of the time they made the Indians look like ruthless savages. Dee Brown wanted to change this perception and tell the story from the Native Americans point of view. ” Out of all these sources of almost forgotten oral history, I have tried to fashion a narrative of the conquest of the American West as the victims experienced it, using their own words when possible.”(xix)
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is a documentation of they way Native Americans were kicked of their land, killed, and betrayed by white people. It recounts the westward expansion of the United States of America from the Native Americans viewpoint. The book tells how Indians were kicked of their land, killed, and betrayed by white people. It also describes many significant Indian battles that took place across the land. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee tells how, 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 of their ancestral lands into ever-shrinking reservations, and were starved and killed if they resisted.
In my opinion, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is an excellent book. I think by writing this book, Dee Brown has changed many perceptions about Native Americans. The book doesn t make the Indians look like a ruthless bunch of savages. Instead, it shows how they really were.
In comparing the book and the movie, I found many things familiar.