Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
How Native Americans Were Assimilated into the American Society and Culture as Depicted in Yves Simoneau Film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knees
Film Analysis – Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
The film “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” is about the assimilation of Native Americans into American culture and society. The film is a historical drama directed by Yves Simoneau. The film begins by showing the US army’s defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and moves to show their continued efforts afterwards to remove Sioux indians out of their own land. The film shows a boy named Ohíye S’a being taken by his father to be assimilated into American culture, given a new name as Charles Alexander Eastman and leaving his old life for this new one. Years pass and Charles is a grown man who has become a doctor, and he fights for the rights of his people using his unique position being from both sides of the conflict. Meanwhile, his old tribe is constantly harassed and attacked by US forces, making them attempt to flee to Canada to survive. Proving to be too difficult, the tribe eventually gives up and joins a Native American reservation, in which Charles comes to tend to the sick. All hope seemed to be lost until Wovoka begins teaching members of the reservation the ghost dance, which is a dance which they claim will give them back their land. This leads to the death of Sitting Bull and the massacre of around 200 natives.
The film has a fair amount of accuracies and inaccuracies within it. One accuracy the film got correct was the death of Sitting Bull, which happened similarly in the movie as it did in reality. Another accuracy was that Charles Eastman was at Wounded Knee and aided the wounded and collected the bodies of those who died in 1890. A major inaccuracy which caused a fair deal of controversy was how Sitting Bull was portrayed. In the movie, Sitting Bull did things such as whip two fellow indians, which is said to have never happened, and that he was instead a holy man who took care of others. Finally, another inaccuracy was how Henry Dawes was portrayed to care for the Native Americans, but in reality just wanted their forceful removal from their land.
I personally liked the film a decent amount, it certainly wasn’t my favorite which we have seen so far this year due to its slow pacing. I feel as if this movie was intended for a specific audience and I wasn’t part of that spectrum. The film does have historical value as it mainly was historically accurate aside from things such as how certain people acted. If I had to create a solution to the “indian problem” in the late 1880’s, I personally would have left them to their own land and instead tried to slowly combine both cultures with peace instead of force or violence. Canada is displayed in a way in the movie similar to how I would go about it, with kind hospitality and attempts to communicate.
Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: A critical analysis
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. By Dee Brown. (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970. Pp. xv+447).
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is a boring title for such an extraordinary book. This is my second time reading this book. I began reading this book again just to refresh my memory, but once I started the first page I could not put it down. I was a freshman in high school the first time I read it, and the only reason that I read it was because it was required. Now, I am six years older and I realize what a tragic story this is. Especially after learning about the Native American community in Native American history class. This book is a comprehensive history of the endless Indian wars throughout the American west that began around 1860 with the relocation of the Navajos and ended in 1890 with the surrender of the remaining Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek.
The Author, Dee Brown, based this book largely upon the records of treaty councils and the words of Indian leaders such as Chief Joseph, Geronimo, and Crazy Horse. This book is not merely an Indian History as someone may think. Dee Brown’s careful documentation and design is what sets it apart from an ordinary history book. The book covers only 30 years, 1860 to 1890, but they are the years that the West was won, as they say, and the Indians’ culture and civilization were lost.
The book is written from the viewpoint of the Indians and it really makes you feel bad for the Indians. Sisseton Chief, Paul Mazakootemane, said “No one, who fights with the white people, ever becomes rich, or remains two days in one place, but is always fleeing and starving.” Unfortunately this is not fiction, and your feelings can in no way alter what has happened in our past. The most sickening thought, and what make me ashamed to be linked to this, is a quote from an anonymous Indian. “They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.” This quote is what really stood out in my mind when I finished the book. The only good that can come from tragic stories such as this, is the old clich that “we can learn from our mistakes”. Hind-sight is always 20/20.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown: A look at the historical background of chapter one
Chapter one lays down the historical back ground of the Native Americans from the very beginning. There isn’t much recognition of these Indian tribes and leaders but this book from the very first chapter portrays the heroic events of the Native Americans. The book was published in 1970 and was one the first story to defend the Native Americans and tell their side of the story unlike many of the other stories that were always from a white man’s perspective. Brown wrote this book to show the mistreatment of the Native Americans and supported this idea with many factual historical documents.
In chapter one, brown tells the Europeans first thoughts of the Native Americans. Columbus wrote to the King and Queen of Spain describing the Native Americans as peaceful, sweet, and gentle. The Americans took this as a sign of weakness. Columbus saw them as slaves, and thought they should be “made to work” and that they should neglect their culture and adopt the American ways, and after about four centuries the other Europeans tried to enforce their ways on the Native Americans as well.
Several treaties or deals were made with the Native Americans throughout the centuries. The Native Americans compromised and made deals with the Europeans and the government of the United States. Almost always, these treaties and promises were broken. In my opinion, the Europeans made the Native Americans believe they were making good deals and compromises when in fact, they always had their own best interest in mind. They made treaties to end wars and conflict for the moment, just to get what they wanted.
Many Native tribe leaders are mentioned in Chapter one. Some of these leaders include; wahunsonacook, Metacom (king Philip), Tecumeseh, Black Hawk, Little Crow, Wabasha, Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, Dull Knife, Satank, Quanah Parker, Mangas Colorado, Manuelito, Kintpuash (Captain Jack), Wovoka, Chief Joseph, and many more. Brown speaks of these leaders to be legends, and a big part of history. He stated that their names would become as well known as the men who tried to destroy them. Most of these men would have been long gone before the Indian freedom came at Wounded Knee in December, 1890. Brown called them “the most heroic of all Americans.” These men sacrificed their lives for their tribes. They fought for Indian freedom and led their tribes into war to gain that freedom. It was a long battle, which included very many deaths, and losses. Whole Native American societies were burned to the ground, including mothers and children. No matter how many times they failed, they didn’t give up.
Before starting this book, I had no idea about many of these brave Native American leaders. I think that this book is similar to the text book. Brown accurately describes their sacrifice and bravery throughout the centuries and all the tragedy they had to overcome. Brown shows the unfairness that the Europeans gave them and I very much agree with him on this aspect. I also agree that these Native American leaders, as well as all their tribes, are an important part of history and they are hero’s. I don’t think they are as recognized as they should be.
The Point of the Author in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
As far back as Columbus arrived at a small island in the Caribbean, the Native American population was pulverized by Europeans. Regardless of whether it was intentional or not, when white individuals were around the Natives, demise soon took place after for a substantial number of them. In the United States, a comparable situation occurred, in spite of the fact that for a long time the Native Americans were living there for a considerably longer time than the few white pilgrims. In any case, as the United States developed, Native Americans turned into an much smaller littler issue for white settlers. This is due to the reason that white settlers discovered more viable manner for moving them, which more often than not comprised of executing countless Native Americans and after that forcing them to live on a reservation that provided little in means of resources. Those that have not adjusted to the European ways still live on the reservations, in filthiness, recollecting a period when their kin chased wild ox on the Great Plains. Dee Brown’s fundamental point in this book is that particularly amid and after the Civil War, as the United States spread across North America to become more wealthy, the Indigenous Peoples encountered a social genocide, in which their societies and culture were annihilated by whites and the United States military.
Being Pushed off Their Territory
The obliteration of the culture and societies of the Native Americans is clear from many perspectives, the first being that none of the Native Americans now dwell in their original homeland, and the few that remain today live on reservations. There was lots of conflict between the Indigenous Peoples and the whites, all of which the whites in the end won since they had more people and better military technology. What’s more, the terms for peace were that the Natives get off of their territory and go to a reservation. Despite the fact that the Native Americans had lived on these terrains for many years, in North America they had left next to no clue that they were there. Some artifacts still remained, however there were not very many, and regularly whatever may have left a trace was obliterated by the whites. The greater part of the records on the Natives composed by white men generally said that the Natives were savages, and that they should not have had the land they had quite recently been driven from. Not many names were specified, and not many records of what the Natives were like existed when they were not at war with the whites. This is to a great extent a direct result of the cultural genocide that runs separately with the real genocide. The more Natives that were murdered, the less of them there were to protect their culture and spread the background about them. This likewise implies there were less Native Americans in general to secure their lands, and the clans were very divided and few, making it impossible to battle a foe like the United States. Had the Europeans come to America and settled it significantly before, the United States might not have existed with the Indians banded together. The Native Americans may have advanced and organized themselves better had the Europeans come later, which means on the off chance that they could possess more advanced weapons to safeguard themselves. In any case, the Europeans most likely would have in the end won, simply in light of the fact that they had built themselves and their societies for warfare, and either way the Native Americans would have in the long run been pushed off of their territory, which in turn meant some of their ways of life disappeared. In any case, the Europeans did not come later, so they utilized their brutal strategies to get the land they wanted, from the Native Americans who had it.
The Indian Removal and the Holocaust
The Indian Removal can be identified with the Holocaust from numerous points of view. The further back one goes in time, the more accepted a genocide is, certainly when it is effectively completed. The United States genocide against the Native Americans went on for quite a while. Since it was so fruitful, we don’t see it as a genocide, since any individual who is left to spread the reality that it was a genocide either lives on a restricted reservation or is not paid attention to.
One way it can be connected with the Holocaust is the stereotyping and propaganda. In the Holocaust, the Nazis used a wide range of propaganda that sustained and exacerbated a large number of the generalizations about Jews. The same occurred in America, and it could be contended that in America the stereotyping was much more awful. In Nazi Germany, the generalization was that Jews had huge noses, were appalling, and were parsimonious to the point that they were taking cash from others, and that was the reason they associated with successful in business. In the United States, the generalization for Native Americans was that they were revolting, graceless savages who just wanted to murder white men, take their things, and destroy their ranches and organizations. Additionally, in Nazi Germany and in the United States neither previously mentioned party was given citizenship in their individual nations.
A portion of the significant comparisons between the Native American genocide and the Holocaust is that the Jews did not really encounter social genocide compared to the Native Americans. Also the murder of Native Americans was more random and took place during a long time span. The Native Americans likewise lost more individuals, in light of the fact that the general population that passed on lived over a gigantic mainland. Fights like the one at Sandy Creek, which is said in the book, are not really fights by any stretch of the imagination, more slaughters. Everybody in the town was butchered, and very few made it out alive. After the American troops were finished slaughtering, scalping, and removing individuals reproductive organs, they burned the whole town to the ground. There are additionally many examples discussed in the book where little gathering of Native Americans would encounter whites holding up the détente signal and get shot when they were meeting up, and as alternate Indigenous Peoples went to retaliate for their fallen comrades, the whites would fight back and cause even more chaos.
Annihilation of Everything Native American
The last manner by which the demolition of the Native American culture and society was addressed in both of the past sections: annihilation of everything Native American. At the point when the Spanish conquistadors went to the Americas looking for gold, they were eager to fight relentlessly to get it. When they discovered that the Incas had a tremendous measure of it, they fought for it with superior technology and tactics, and took the majority of the gold, melted it, and converted it to anything that was but originally Native American. Frequently, when the conquistadors were at war with the Native Americans, they would destroy or burn the Native American settlements to establish their dominance. This proceeded in the Americas for quite a while. The many wars between the Native Americans and the post-Civil War United States didn’t change any of the brutal methods that preceded them. The United States troops would often destroy whole town’s after a win, so anything that was critical to the way of life that was in the town, at any rate in Sandy Creek, was no more. Additionally, any little cultivating towns on the Atlantic drift were likewise torched amid and after the many grisly clashes there.
The Bias of the Author
Dee Brown completes a great deal of good in this book, like getting many records of what the Native Americans stated, which was impressive considering they didn’t record things compared to the whites. The entire book is the Native American stance of the challenged over the lands of the modern day United States, in places like Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado, and other close-by regions and states. Dee does a great job at getting the perspectives of the two sides of the numerous Native American wars, be that as it may he just gets the perspective of the military leaders on the two sides. The many soldiers, warriors, and everyday people engaged in these situations are not really given names. The bias in this book is that Brown just talks about the important figures who were prevalent during the Indian Removal and other events. There are numerous sections in the book committed to the relations between the important figures of the United States and the leaders of the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and more. Throughout the book the names of the normal soldiers and warriors have been forgotten, although the leaders all had their personal accounts and names. The opinions of the normal people could have provided some more depth, however Dee did his best in providing the clear story of what happened.
Brown likewise does not speak much about day by day life, mostly on the grounds that the everyday citizens are to a great extent left alone for the book. The greater part of what is discussed in the book is wartime and times of extraordinary hardship, for example, the time when a few US soldiers were trapped in a fort all winter and either died or were got scurvy. After winter they were faced with no supply of food and were starving. In any case, a large portion of what is discussed is the battles between the Native Americans and whites. The strategies, and endeavors at peacemaking and settlement making are also spoken about. The point of view is for the most part a military one, specifying the greater part of the fights battled between the Native Americans and U.S. Considering this book was written in the 20th century, the Dee recognizes the importance of the Native American opinion on these historical events, and tries his best to focus on them and share their viewpoint. He is biased to the Native American leaders compared to the US military leaders throughout Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
The greater part of Brown’s point of view are vital in how the story is told, and also sets it apart as unique to several historical pieces about the Native Americans created in the past. What makes Brown’s book so significant is that most books on US History that involve relations with the Native Americans, just gloss over the topic, and do not go as in depth as Brown does in describing how they were mistreated. On the off chance that a person did know the stories of these fights and wars, it would likely be an altogether different account from what truly happened. A common theme that Brown repeats is how the whites would often be untruthful on their victories over the Native Americans. For example, let’s say there is a theoretical battle between the US forces and the Native Americans. The US wins the battle. In reality the battle may have been a small skirmish on a creek bed with women and children, cleaning clothing or looking for food. But the US forces may have told the story as an ambush of enemy combatants foolishly caught off-guard. There may have been twenty Native Americans, but the soldiers might say that it was upto fifty. This is just a part of Browns complex outlook on the Indian Removal and slaughter that took place in the United States. His point of view helped has helped readers everywhere understand a new perspective that is very eye opening, and unfortunately tragic.
The Things One Can Learn from This Book
Dee Brown point of view into the world: that of the Native Americans of the West, including for the most part the clans ike the Cheyenne, Sioux, and others, amid the time of contention amongst them and the U.S. amid and after the American Civil War, offers a wonderful, more deep perspective as to what really happened to the Native Americans in the modern-day United States. Most people in the United States and around the world do not see it through the unique lense that Brown explains it and see’s it through. This would imply that most individuals who had not read this book before would take in alot of new info about Native Americans, that they could not understand though most other historical works, however as previously stated it would focus more on the leaders and not the lower-class peoples who took part in this event. In any case, this is a lot of good information, considering how little the majority of the world is aware of the Native Americans true experiences. All that a great many people in the United States know is possibly a couple of names of a few clans, and the Mayflower ordeal when settlers initially got to America. With what the book offers, there is a tremendous measure of learning to be obtained from this book. The main thing that may have been useful would have been a guide, indicating areas of strongholds and regions, and in addition plotting streams and the territories the a wide range of clans lived in.
The primary piece of learning that can be drawn from this book, is the treatment of the Native Americans by the white men. The substantial territories of the Native Americans dwelling around the US already were not always on the best of terms, in truth a large number of the clans had gone to war beforehand and were foes, but they were generally kind and genuine individuals, particularly contrasting with the whites they consulted with. The Native Americans, making contracts with the settlers, were always following with what the settlers said agreeing to what the contract said, without knowing it being deceitful and untruthful. The whites on the other hand were just hoping to trick the Native Americans and attempt to get the rich land that they were on so they could settle it and search for gold, settling, and hides. Since the Native Americans were very trusting, they regularly had their territory taken from them by the whites. The large migration of eastern whites into the west also decreased game for the Native Americans, making food much more scarce than usual. There is a very well known and common reoccurance that happened between the whites and Native Americans throughout US History. Each promise that the Americans made was inevitably broken, while the Native Americans quite often kept theirs, occasionally even after the Americans had broken their side of the deal. This prompted a considerable measure of disdain, particularly as the a large number of the Native Americans that survived went to live with different clans that advanced west. The displaced Native Americans that survived being pushed further and further west told their stories of how they were misled and swindled by the white men, and how they were not to be trusted. But among the many broken deals by the white men, there were some dealings, some of which actually went through. What the Native Americans did not understand until too late was that the settlers just wanted the land, and knew in the long run that since they had the numbers and capability, if they chose to assault they could be deterred by the Natives, yet they could never be stopped. The whites did not stop, and they continued killing Natives for quite a while before they came to their senses. For instance, since they were barbaric to the whites, the whites continued to by scalping and mutilating the Natives, and additionally killing kids, which in itself was pretty self-contradictory since they were so barbaric themselves in their combat. The most alarming was at Sandy Creek, where fighters wrecked a camp while everybody was asleep, and did not hesitate to kill every Native American they could get their hands on, afterwards burning and destroying the whole camp. The Native Americans, at this point obviously quite angry, continued to scalp huge numbers of the whites, which in the Native culture is a colossal disrespect to the man and his heritage. The few white leaders that showed benevolence to the Natives most often only did so so they could cheat the Native Americans out of their land and/or goods. By and large, the treatment of the Natives by the whites were terrible. The whites who committed these atrocities justified it by only thinking of them as savages who were even worse off than the blacks.
Another great quality of Brown was his attention to detail. Quite often when describing new environments, he went as far as describing the weather that was prevalent at that battle or in that region. He also outlined some of their traditions in the book. In the Native American culture, it was custom for the warriors to have longer hair, but for most of the Americans they encountered, the soldiers and officers were supposed to have short hair. Another considerably more intriguing custom is the nomenclature of the Native Americans. Their names are all composed of specific things which combined might reflect a characteristic or personality trait. Names like Red Cloud and Sitting Bull are examples of this when translated to English, and there might be numerous increasingly or totally extraordinary purposes behind these names.
Brown also covers in detail the relations between the Native Americans and the whites, as well as the combat between the two and the military strategy. The numerous encounters between the whites and the Native Americans, whether it be diplomatic or combative, had endless possibilities and outcomes. The whites by and large depended on unrivaled number and innovation. The Native American tactics were largely composed of guerilla warfare. By this time most Native Americans learned that they could not beat the American soldiers and settlers through brute force and numbers, but through ambushes and tactics to catch them off guard. An example of a Native American tactic, was when the the Natives would go and spook the horses of the US soldiers after untying them, which in turn crippled their cavalry units and cause disarray. This did mean though that the whites were alerted to their presence, making the sabotagers often caught. When the Native Americans had more numbers, and organized themselves, they could often win fights against the whites. In terms of diplomacy, peace relations often failed, normally because the terms were completely one sided. In most cases the deals consisted of pushing the Native Americans off of their land, which they often disagreed with. Sometimes clans could prolong their stay on their territories by steering the whites in the direction of other clans, or allying with them to hold the whites off with a stronger force, but in the end it was inevitable. Be that as it may, the Natives managed a couple of times in strategy to battle off the whites, neither was eager to agree with on another when it came to diplomacy.
My Thoughts About Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
The Significance of the Topic of the Book in the Telling of US History
The significance of “Bury My Heart at Wounded knee” is to explain the relationships the natives and white americans. Dee Brown details how horrifying the Genocide against the Natives was. As well as how the whites tried to live peacefully with the native americans. “Before these laws could be put into effect, a new wave of white settlers swept westward and formed the territories of Wisconsin and Iowa. This made it necessary for the policy makers in Washington to shift the ‘permanent Indian frontier’ from the Mississippi River to the 95th meridian” (Page 6) “He probably was not surprised that few Navahos could be found. He knew that the only way to conquer them was to destroy their crops and livestock — scorch their earth.” (page 24 ) “Truly, he thought, that nation of white men is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path. Soon they would take the buffalo country unless the hearts of the Indians were strong enough to hold it.” (Page 65) “Thus did the Cheyennes and Arapahos abandon all claims to the Territory of Colorado. And that of course was the real meaning of the massacre at Sand Creek.” (Page 98)
The Two Characters I Liked the Most
The Sitting Bull was my favorite character in the book, he led the Teton Sioux tribe. The Sitting Bull was portrayed as a resistance against the brutality and aggression to the natives. He is a leader and his people is his priority and no matter what, he keeps fighting for them. Even if it means giving up his life. The Crazy Horse fought along side of the Sitting Bull and helped him with many successful guerilla attacks. He was the chief of the Oglala Tribe, But his people were often starving which caused him to surrender. I chose these two characters because they reflect on how people can be brave and stand up for others. I also chose them because they show good leadership and companionship towards their tribe.
The Probable Influence on a Reader
I think that this book would drastically influence the mind of a learner. This book is impactful to the United States history because it shows how white men would treat others. But it also shows they different tactics and strategies that the natives had to fight the whites. It was a dark time for the United States and this book helped me realize the savageness and brutality Native Americans had to deal with in this time period. Literature can give a voice to people. In this book, Dee Brown gave a voice to the Native Americans. He told stories of the genocide against Natives and the history of many tribes. Most importantly, he recognizes the many battles, struggles, and leadership that the Natives had. It’s important to recognize the leaders of the tribes because they fought for what was right and brought justice to their tribes.
I thought that the book was pretty interesting, I enjoyed the details that Dee Brown used in the battles. The most impactful moment was when Abraham Lincoln had some empathy towards the Santee Tribe, because he only decided to imprison the one who weren’t involved in the retaliation.
My Opinion About Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
The Life of Dee Brown
The book I read, and am reviewing, is Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee written by Dee Brown. Brown was born February 29, 1908 in Alberta, Louisiana. He was raised in Ouachita County, Arkansas until he was 13 when his mother relocated their family to Little Rock so that Brown and his three siblings could attend a better high school. Growing up, Brown spent lots of time in public libraries and became fascinated with American history. He read many books written by John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Sherwood Anderson and later claimed these authors to be the most influential to him and his work. When Brown was a teenager, he was a fan of going to the Arkansas Travelers’ baseball games. He met and became acquainted with the pitcher of the team who went by the name Chief Yellow Horse. Due to his kindness and openness to a poor small town boy, this majorly influenced Brown to reject the stereotypes and discrimination of Native American people that was still active in society at the time. This friendship sparked a wholesome relationship with a man who most saw as a lesser being. Later he went to college at Arkansas State where he became close with his mentor, and history professor, Dean McBrien. They shared a similar passion and he gave him the idea of becoming a writer for the first time. Brown claimed to have learned more from McBrien than any other classroom and was quickly converted into a fanatic for the American West. Down the road, Brown worked as a reporter, printer, editor, librarian, and a professor in different cities across Arkansas. He ended up writing over a dozen books where Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee became his most successful work and a bestseller. He went on to sell more than 5 million copies and it has been translated into 17 other languages. Brown died on December 12, 2002 and remains the only contributor of Arkansas literature to be in The New York Public Library’s Books of the Century.
Documented Records and Stories
In this book, Brown effectively documents the organized destruction of the Indians in the 19th century and utilizes many sources to back the stories. Brown incorporates many notable Indians of the time and their stories about the wars, genocide, and betrayals that left them ultimately and wrongfully defeated. This is a very unique book told from never before seen sides and has forever changed the argument of how America’s West was discovered and taken. This work differed from Brown’s other projects in which it steered away from traditional frontier stories and stirred up a lot of controversy as it forced Americans to look at the other side during a tough time in the country’s history. Lots of people thought he himself was an Indian, but he was not. His old friendship with Chief Yellow Horse is what inspired him to write this book and can explain why he wrote the book the way he did. Brown even said the best compliment he ever received was from an unknown Indian when they said “You didn’t write that book. Only an Indian could have written that book!” Looking at a variety of tribes throughout the book, Brown is able to effectively show how these Natives felt and what they were thinking as their land was stripped from them by gathering documented records and stories written and told by these tribes.
Giving the Natives a Voice
Throughout this book, it’s clear that Brown argues Native Americans were wrongfully robbed of their land while genocide coincided for no reason. He tries to display that the Indians never started anything in the Native’s resistance by sharing their side of the story and accomplishes this by revolutionizing the history of the West and finally gave the Natives a voice for once. This turned out to be surprisingly efficient as it opened up a lot of controversy surrounding the book upon its release and remains a very respected piece of work. He shows how the government manipulated and broke many treaties that they proposed and signed themselves with the Indians. Over the course of time people have said “Americans had a religious duty to colonize the West” but Brown is able to show how that was just a front for the disheartening truth of a widely controversial topic.
The author wrote this book to give the Natives a chance to speak their truth and to open the eyes of many others about their side. Brown wanted to prove that the Natives never struck first but only retaliated after being deceived and deprived of their life and land multiple times. For example, the main goal of the expanding railroad system was to allow settlers to harvest and colonize the uncharted West even though they knew it was native land. To do this, they sent in military forces to evict and propagate manifest destiny. When the US formed the Iowa and Wisconsin territories, the policy makers in Washington immediately broke one of their treaties and shifted the “Indian Frontier” from the Mississippi to the 95th meridian and we learn that they “invented Manifest Destiny, a term which lifted land hunger to a lofty plane. The Europeans and their descendants were ordained by destiny to rule all of America. They were the dominant race and therefore responsible for the Indians — along with their lands, their forests, and their mineral wealth (19)” explaining that the Natives were far inferior. Another example is after the Mexican/American War. The government sent out waves of settlers to California and the MidWest even though most of the land West of the Mississippi rightfully belonged to the Indians which was explicitly stated in multiple treaties the government had also signed. This further supports Brown’s argument that the Indians were deceived on multiple occasions.
Valid Sources and Facts
While structured uniquely, Brown is also very convincing in this book and is able to support all of his information with valid sources. When the book was newly published, a couple of credible historians criticized Brown for “focusing on Indian interactions with soldiers” and for his “willingness to sacrifice precision for pizzazz.” He responded to these comments by saying “I have the documents to prove everything.” He organizes and conveys the material in 19 chapters through documented records, stories, and autobiographies with little to no narratives.
Brown definitely substantiates his thesis and arguments throughout the entire book. We learn that out of 3.7 million buffalo killed in a two year span, the Indians only killed 150 thousand of them ridding them of their source of food, clothing, shelter, and ultimately survival. This births a story about a Native named Tatanka and we can read “he thought, that nation of white men is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path. Soon they would take the buffalo country unless the hearts of the Indians were strong enough to hold it. He resolved that he would fight to hold it (71)” explaining that they only wanted to fight when defending something or for survival. Another story comes from the results of the Sand Creek Massacre where the US murdered hundreds of women and children after killing an innocent Cheyenne boy. Three half breed brothers were trying to decide between white and native civilization on the way to their fathers ranch when one brother “heard more details of the soldiers’ atrocities at sand creek — the horrible scalpings and mutilations, the butchery of children and infants (106).” They later decided to take no part or side with the white men. Following the senseless massacre, the Cheyenne left the area of Colorado and obviously that’s what the US had wanted all along. Finally we have one of the more notable quotes in the book really emphasizing the whole point of Brown’s message and it reads “The Indians who ambushed Fetterman were only imitating their enemies, a practice which in warfare, as in civilian life, is said to be the sincerest form of flattery (142)” showing pure retaliation.
I believe that Brown agrees with what we say in class but on the more broad side of things. We have talked plenty about the conflicts between the two societies and how the US took advantage of the Natives which concurs with Brown’s opinion. He uses many first hand sources throughout the book which makes it so fascinating, incredible, and different in multiple ways. It also makes the book very credible and respected on a wide scale. It was very readable and intriguing and the author made it hard for people to forget about this piece of work. However, due to the lack of narratives, it’s tough to follow the story sometimes and could use some adjustments there. Overall, the book was great, informative, and awesome seeing all the first hand sources and how it stands out from other books I have read.
Depiction of Ponca Tribe in the Fifteenth Chapter of “I Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”
The Fifteenth Chapter of “I Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” is named “Standing Bear becomes a Person.” Chapter fifteen starts out talking about the Ponca Tribe. In 1804 Lewis and Clark met the friendly Ponca tribe and at that time there were only about two hundred of them due to an outbreak of small pox. Half a century later the Ponca’s were still on the right bank of the Missouri and they were still friendly and ready to trade. They had been raising corn and keep vegetable gardens. They were doing a fine job on their land but year after year the government made false promises to these Indians and eventually were said to be exiled to Indian territories.
Brown mentions Ponca chiefs such as White Eagle, Standing Bear, Big Elk and other chiefs being left stranded by Inspector Kemble because they did not want to live in Indian Territory. They walked for forty days back to their land for five hundred miles with only a few dollars and blankets. In April Kemble returned with threats of bringing in the troops he persuaded 170 members of the tribe to move to Indian Territory but none of the Chiefs would go with him. On May 21st, 1877 soldiers came to the boarder pointing guns and making their children and people cry. They were forced to move in harsh conditions. The weather and sickness started killing off the tribe, along with Standing Bear’s daughter, Prairie Flower.
By the end of their first year in Indian Territory almost one fourth of them had died and received Christian burials. It was after they were set to move again, and Standing Bears eldest son had died, he made his father promise to bury him in their old burying ground. He was then arrested along with all the other runaways who refused to come back to Indian Territory all because they wanted to bury his son. General Crook was the one to capture them but then intervened benefiting them after seeing their harsh conditions and bravery. General Crook eventually helped Standing Bear win a court case giving him the right to stay on his land.
I like this chapter because it shows that after all the mistreatments that the Indians had to ender there was still a little victory at the end for Standing Bear. Brown shows all the horrible things the European Americans, and the United States government put the Indians through and all the treaties and promises they broke but he still shows when they actually do something right. It is a shame that more Americans weren’t like General Crook who saw the good in the Indians. He saw what they had to go through and he saw the crappy conditions they were put through. He knew that no one deserved that especially after hearing why Standing Bear and the other Ponca’s ran away from the Indian Territory. All they wanted to do was grant his son’s last wish before he died. They deserved to stay on their own home lands as well.
My Impressions from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Book
Dee Browns book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is an accurate account of how the United States dealt with the Native American problem in the mid to late 1800s. After all the Indians were on OUR land and didnt seem to use it for any economical means, why cant they just be moved somewhere else. Giving them Christian names and putting them in large groups on a small area of land seemed to be the answer. That way the Indians can still live in nature, but they wont interfere with the everyday American lifestyle. The last three sentences are the way I feel most people felt about the Native Americans after the American Civil War.
History is filled with stories. Many of these stories have been changed or suppressed by the leaders who carried out some of the most pivotal events in human history. As a young country the United States had its ups and downs as far as dealing with key human rights issues is concerned. Probably the most publicized example would be the civil rights struggle for African Americans. They are not the only group to be persecuted throughout U.S. history. There were the Chinese who were kept in camps after they completed the railroads to the west, which helped our country expand and grow. In the early 1900s the Irish Americans coming to New York were constantly harassed and persecuted. And then there is the group of people who probably have more right to the land than we do, Native Americans or as they were incorrectly named, Indians. This group of people thrived on this entire hemisphere until European settlers discovered this New World. After that began the systematic destruction of all Indian cultures. The Mayans, Incas, Sioux, Apache, Aztecs, and Cherokee are all tribes whose cultures have been removed from the face of the earth. The Central and South American Indians (Aztec, Mayan, and Inca) were the most advanced of all, building great pyramids and developing an understanding of science. The North American Indians (Sioux, Apache, and Cherokee) were more primitive, but no less important. They seemed to live in harmony with nature and they respected the delicate balance between their surroundings and themselves. Why did we feel they were such a threat? Why could we not live hand-in-hand with these people?
This is where Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee begins to tell a story. The book describes the struggle between the Native Americans and the European settlers who became Americans. Dee Brown basically just went through the history of the Native Americans after the Europeans arrived. Brown used numerous Indian and U.S. records to write this book, so the accuracy of the book is proven. After the brief introduction the book covers about three decades of the American Indians fight for their land. The last story being told was probably the most gruesome, the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Here on a cold December day is were hundreds of Sioux men, women, and children were killed. Other battles were described in such detail. The Indians fought so valiantly to try to protect their ancestral homes, but in the end it was useless. The Americans later desecrated their sacred holy land such as the Black Hills and Paha Sapa. The most popular desecrated site would be one most Americans look at as a national monument. Mt. Rushmore was carved into the very mountains held sacred by some Native Americans. The most riveting part of the book was probably the last paragraph. It reads It was the fourth day after Christmas in the Year of Our Lord 1890. When the first torn and bleeding bodies were carried into the candlelit church, those who were conscious could see Christmas greenery hanging from the open rafters. Across the chancel front above the pulpit was strung a crudely lettered banner: PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN.
How did this book affect me? I now see how awful our government treated Americas first citizens. What caused us to be so persistent in our pursuit in moving the Indians out of their land? With our technology and pride we did the job. This book made me feel awful about being white skinned and American. It also made me try to figure out what was to blame. I think it all came down to religion. When the Europeans came to this new country they believed that unless you were Christian or you converted you were expendable. Plus, there are the sins of greed and pride. These drove the settlers out west to make money. While reading this book it took me through a lot of emotions. Anger and sadness are the only two ways to describe the way I felt. While reading the book something else happened. On September 11, 2001 our country changed. National pride began to reemerge and America was once again looked upon as a great and proud nation. But I still had to read the book. It was a weird feeling. It took me a while, but I finally came to the conclusion that we are a totally different country now. All of the mistakes our country make are in the past. We can never change our history, but we can fight to make sure that similar events of injustice never happen again. I hope we always turn our eyes and ears toward the past to see how to handle the future.