, Research Paper
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown.
New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970.
In the Introduction, the author tells how he put together a book of the oral history of the American Indians, based on the government records of council meetings with white officials. In these meetings, all Indians were allowed to speak. They chose their own interpreters, and they told their oral history in their own words. Chapter 1 begins with Columbus, who first called the people “Indios” (p. 1). Thus, they came to be known as Indians, even though they do not live in India. Chapter 2 talks about the many treaties that the Navaho made with the Americans. The treaties were always broken and the Navaho always suffered. Chapter Three is called “Little Crow’s War.” It tells the story of the Santee Sioux, who lost their homeland forever after the American Civil War. Chapter 4 talks about the spread of American warfare against the Indians, this time to the Cheyenne. The massacre at Sand Creek almost destroyed the people. At the end of this chapter there is a song that the Indians used to sing. Chapter 5 tell the story of Powder River, where the US cavalry invaded and drove the Plains Indians onto reservations. Chief Red Cloud promised to punish the white men if they invaded his country again, but he knew that he did not have enough guns to fight against the US cavalry. Chapter 6 is titled “Red Cloud’s War.” American officials tried to make a treaty with all the tribes in the area, but the warrior chiefs could not come to the meeting. They were busy fighting against the invasion of General Connor. Governor Newton Edmunds of the Territory of Dakota tried his best, but this war was already happening. Finally, after much bloodshed, a treaty was signed. But many of the Indians were already dead. Besides, they already knew that the white man did not keep his treaties. Chapter 6 ends with a song called the Sun Dance Chant. Chapter 7 is titled “The Only Good Indian Is A Dead Indian.” It talks about the terrible killing of many Indians. Chapter 8 tells the story of Donehogawa, a Seneca chief who was also a military secretary to General Grant and Commissioner of Indian Affairs.. The Cheyenne and the Sioux joined together, but still they were not strong enough to stand up against the US cavalry. They did not want to move to the new reservation. Chapter 9e tells the story of Cochise and the Apache fight against the American invasion. Chapter 10 tells how the California Indians held out as long as they could, but they lost in the end. Captain Jack tried to save his people, but in the end he was hanged for “crimes” against the US. Chapter 11 tells how the white men destroyed the buffalo, which the Indians depended on to survive. Chapter 12 tells how the Sioux fought for their land in South Dakota. Chapter 13 tells how the US forced the Nez Perce to leave their home. Chapter 14 tells how the Cheyenne traveled father away from home, looking for a place to live in peace. Chapters 15 through 18 add more stories of Americans invading the land of the Indians and killing many of them and sending the rest to reservations. Chapter 19 tells the story of Wounded Knee, in which the soldiers massacred many Indians for no good reason. They had a sun dance because they were hoping for a better life. But the white men saw the dance as a threat of war. This chapter has some of the songs of the Indians.
This book shows a unique view of the Indian and a different way to look at the Old West. This book tells many stories and is fully documented. Together, the stories demonstrate the systematic destruction of the American Indians in the second half of the nineteenth century. The author uses council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions. Thus, Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of many tribes to tell the stories in their own words. They describe the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them broken and conquered. This book is disturbing to read because the stories have power and focus. It is the story of how the West was lost, not how the West was won. It is a heartbreaking book. A proud and noble people were cheated out of their homeland by broken treaties and massacred by the soldiers’ guns. They fought well, and they should be proud of themselves.
Book Report: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown.
New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970.