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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

4.5/5 (57 Bewertungen)
702 Seiten
11 Stunden
Oct 23, 2012

Anmerkung des Herausgebers

An iconic revisionist history…

Illuminating and heartbreaking, this iconic revisionist history gives voice to the American Indians who traded, negotiated, and eventually fought to preserve their ways of life in the face of America’s westward expansion.


From Scribd: About the Book

The #1 New York Times bestseller that gives an unflinching account of the devastating toll America’s period of westward expansion took on the many native tribes who already lived on the land

This powerful and moving portrayal focuses on the major events of the late nineteenth century that forced American Indians to negotiate, strategize, and eventually fight for their land and their lives in the face of ruthless encroachment and genocide. Betrayed by broken treaties, removed, embattled, and massacred, the native tribes and the brave chiefs who led them are represented here with sensitivity and historical accuracy like never before.

Historian and novelist Dee Brown pulls on historical records and firsthand accounts to present a scrupulously crafted chronicle of the Native American history that has all too often been romanticized by Western films and books. In Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, the voices of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, Apache and more tell the true story of how the American West was won.

Oct 23, 2012

Über den Autor

Dorris Alexander “Dee” Brown (1908–2002) was a celebrated author of both fiction and nonfiction, whose classic study Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is widely credited with exposing the systematic destruction of American Indian tribes to a world audience. Brown was born in Louisiana and grew up in Arkansas. He worked as a reporter and a printer before enrolling at Arkansas State Teachers College, where he met his future wife, Sally Stroud. He later earned two degrees in library science, and worked as a librarian while beginning his career as a writer. He went on to research and write more than thirty books, often centered on frontier history or overlooked moments of the Civil War. Brown continued writing until his death in 2002.      

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Dee Brown

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

An Indian History of the American West

Dee Brown

For Nicolas Brave Wolf




























List of Illustrations

Chapter Two

1. Manuelito

2. Juanita, wife of Manuelito

3. Navaho warrior of the 1860’s

Chapter Three

4. Little Crow

5. Big Eagle

Chapter Four

6. Cheyenne and Arapaho Chiefs in Denver

7. Little Raven

8. George Bent and his wife Magpie

9. Edmond Guerrier

Chapter Five

10. Red Cloud

Chapter Six

11. Spotted Tail

Chapter Seven

12. Roman Nose

13. Tosawi

Chapter Eight

14. Donehogawa (Ely Parker)

Chapter Nine

15. Cochise

16. Eskiminzin 203

Chapter Ten

17. Captain Jack

Chapter Eleven

18. Satanta

19. Lone Wolf

20. Kicking Bird

21. Ten Bears

22. White Horse

23. Quanah Parker

Chapter Twelve

24. Sitting Bull

25. Gall

26. Two Moon

27. Hump

28. Crow King

29. Young-Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses

30. Little Big Man

31. Crazy Horse

Chapter Thirteen

32. Chief Joseph

Chapter Fourteen

33. Dull Knife

34. Little Wolf

Chapter Fifteen

35. Standing Bear

Chapter Sixteen

36. Ouray

37. Nicaagat (Jack)

38. Quinkent (Douglas)

39. Colorow

Chapter Seventeen

40. Geronimo

41. Naiche and his wife

42. Victorio

43. Nana

Chapter Eighteen

44. Wovoka, the Paiute Messiah

45. Kicking Bear

46. Short Bull

47. John Grass

Chapter Nineteen

48. Big Foot in death

49. Red Cloud in old age


AN ANCIENT TRADITION TELLS us that the interval between the birth of the parents and the arrival of their first offspring averages thirty years. We call that a generation. Thirty years ago, early in 1971, this book was born. And so now it is beginning its second generation.

As the first generation ends, it is almost a cliché to say that enormous changes have occurred during the time that has passed. Yet vast changes certainly have affected the present-day descendants of the old tribal prophets whose stories are told in these pages.

During the past generation, some tribal reservations have prospered, others have not. There are now, and probably always will be, disagreements within tribes as to the direction their people should take. In spite of the many personal frustrations and difficulties young seekers of knowledge experience, it is no longer unusual to meet American-Indian lawyers, physicians, college professors, computer specialists, artists, writers, or members of almost any other profession or trade. Yet on some reservations there is still a shortage of proper places in which to live. And the county with the deepest poverty in the United States is still a tribal reservation.

Judging from letters I have received through the years, the readers who have given life to this book come from almost all the hundred or so ethnic groups that comprise this unique and awesome place called America. Small though the comparative number of American Indians is, almost all other Americans seem to have an earnest fascination for their history, their arts and literature, their attitude toward the natural world, and their philosophy of human existence.

And this wide interest exists beyond the borders of America into the lands of other people and other cultures. Name a small nation, one whose people have a history of past injustices and oppression, and this book will likely be in print there.

We rarely know the full power of words, in print or spoken. It is my hope that time has not dulled the words herein and that they will continue through the coming generation to be as true and direct as I originally meant them to be.


in the year 2000


SINCE THE EXPLORATORY JOURNEY of Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Coast early in the nineteenth century, the number of published accounts describing the opening of the American West has risen into the thousands. The greatest concentration of recorded experience and observation came out of the thirty-year span between 1860 and 1890—the period covered by this book. It was an incredible era of violence, greed, audacity, sentimentality, undirected exuberance, and an almost reverential attitude toward the ideal of personal freedom for those who already had it.

During that time the culture and civilization of the American Indian was destroyed, and out of that time came virtually all the great myths of the American West—tales of fur traders, mountain men, steamboat pilots, goldseekers, gamblers, gunmen, cavalrymen, cowboys, harlots, missionaries, schoolmarms, and homesteaders. Only occasionally was the voice of an Indian heard, and then more often than not it was recorded by the pen of a white man. The Indian was the dark menace of the myths, and even if he had known how to write in English, where would he have found a printer or a publisher?

Yet they are not all lost, those Indian voices of the past. A few authentic accounts of American western history were recorded by Indians either in pictographs or in translated English, and some managed to get published in obscure journals, pamphlets, or books of small circulation. In the late nineteenth century, when the white man’s curiosity about Indian survivors of the wars reached a high point, enterprising newspaper reporters frequently interviewed warriors and chiefs and gave them an opportunity to express their opinions on what was happening in the West. The quality of these interviews varied greatly, depending upon the abilities of the interpreters, or upon the inclination of the Indians to speak freely. Some feared reprisals for telling the truth, while others delighted in hoaxing reporters with tall tales and shaggy-dog stories. Contemporary newspaper statements by Indians must therefore be read with skepticism, although some of them are masterpieces of irony and others burn with outbursts of poetic fury.

Among the richest sources of first-person statements by Indians are the records of treaty councils and other formal meetings with civilian and military representatives of the United States government. Isaac Pitman’s new stenographic system was coming into vogue during the second half of the nineteenth century, and when Indians spoke in council a recording clerk sat beside the official interpreter.

Even when the meetings were in remote parts of the West, someone usually was available to write down the speeches, and because of the slowness of the translation process, much of what was said could be recorded in longhand. Interpreters quite often were half-bloods who knew spoken languages but seldom could read or write. Like most oral peoples they and the Indians depended upon imagery to express their thoughts, so that the English translations were filled with graphic similes and metaphors of the natural world. If an eloquent Indian had a poor interpreter, his words might be transformed to flat prose, but a good interpreter could make a poor speaker sound poetic.

Most Indian leaders spoke freely and candidly in councils with white officials, and as they became more sophisticated in such matters during the 1870’s and 1880’s, they demanded the right to choose their own interpreters and recorders. In this latter period, all members of the tribes were free to speak, and some of the older men chose such opportunities to recount events they had witnessed in the past, or to sum up the histories of their peoples. Although the Indians who lived through this doom period of their civilization have vanished from the earth, millions of their words are preserved in official records. Many of the more important council proceedings were published in government documents and reports.

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 whenever possible. Americans who have always looked westward when reading about this period should read this book facing eastward.

This is not a cheerful book, but history has a way of intruding upon the present, and perhaps 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 Indians stereotyped in the American myth as ruthless savages. They may learn something about their own relationship to the earth from a people who were true conservationists. The Indians knew that life was equated with the earth and its resources, that America was a paradise, and they could not comprehend why the intruders from the East were determined to destroy all that was Indian as well as America itself.

And if the readers of this book should ever chance to see the poverty, the hopelessness, and the squalor of a modern Indian reservation, they may find it possible to truly understand the reasons why.

Urbana, Illinois

April, 1970

Dee Brown

I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.



Their Manners Are Decorous and Praiseworthy

Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun.

Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, Never! Never!


IT BEGAN WITH CHRISTOPHER Columbus, who gave the people the name Indios. Those Europeans, the white men, spoke in different dialects, and some pronounced the word Indien, or Indianer, or Indian. Peaux-rouges, or redskins, came later. As was the custom of the people when receiving strangers, the Tainos on the island of San Salvador generously presented Columbus and his men with gifts and treated them with honor.

So tractable, so peaceable, are these people, Columbus wrote to the King and Queen of Spain, that I swear to your Majesties there is not in the world a better nation. They love their neighbors as themselves, and their discourse is ever sweet and gentle, and accompanied with a smile; and though it is true that they are naked, yet their manners are decorous and praiseworthy.

All this, of course, was taken as a sign of weakness, if not heathenism, and Columbus being a righteous European was convinced the people should be "made to work, sow and do all that is necessary and to adopt our ways." Over the next four centuries (1492–1890) several million Europeans and their descendants undertook to enforce their ways upon the people of the New World.

Columbus kidnapped ten of his friendly Taino hosts and carried them off to Spain, where they could be introduced to the white man’s ways. One of them died soon after arriving there, but not before he was baptized a Christian. The Spaniards were so pleased that they had made it possible for the first Indian to enter heaven that they hastened to spread the good news throughout the West Indies.

The Tainos and other Arawak people did not resist conversion to the Europeans’ religion, but they did resist strongly when hordes of these bearded strangers began scouring their islands in search of gold and precious stones. The Spaniards looted and burned villages; they kidnapped hundreds of men, women, and children and shipped them to Europe to be sold as slaves. Arawak resistance brought on the use of guns and sabers, and whole tribes were destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people in less than a decade after Columbus set foot on the beach of San Salvador, October 12, 1492.

Communications between the tribes of the New World were slow, and news of the Europeans’ barbarities rarely overtook the rapid spread of new conquests and settlements. Long before the English-speaking white men arrived in Virginia in 1607, however, the Powhatans had heard rumors about the civilizing techniques of the Spaniards. The Englishmen used subtler methods. To ensure peace long enough to establish a settlement at Jamestown, they put a golden crown upon the head of Wahunsonacook, dubbed him King Powhatan, and convinced him that he should put his people to work supplying the white settlers with food. Wahunsonacook vacillated between loyalty to his rebellious subjects and to the English, but after John Rolfe married his daughter, Pocahontas, he apparently decided that he was more English than Indian. After Wahunsonacook died, the Powhatans rose up in revenge to drive the Englishmen back into the sea from which they had come, but the Indians underestimated the power of English weapons. In a short time the eight thousand Powhatans were reduced to less than a thousand.

In Massachusetts the story began somewhat differently but ended virtually the same as in Virginia. After the Englishmen landed at Plymouth in 1620, most of them probably would have starved to death but for aid received from friendly natives of the New World. A Pemaquid named Samoset and three Wampanoags named Massasoit, Squanto, and Hobomah became self-appointed missionaries to the Pilgrims. All spoke some English, learned from explorers who had touched ashore in previous years. Squanto had been kidnapped by an English seaman who sold him into slavery in Spain, but he escaped through the aid of another Englishman and finally managed to return home. He and the other Indians regarded the Plymouth colonists as helpless children; they shared corn with them from the tribal stores, showed them where and how to catch fish, and got them through the first winter. When spring came they gave the white men some seed corn and showed them how to plant and cultivate it.

For several years these Englishmen and their Indian neighbors lived in peace, but many more shiploads of white people continued coming ashore. The ring of axes and the crash of falling trees echoed up and down the coasts of the land which the white men now called New England. Settlements began crowding in upon each other. In 1625 some of the colonists asked Samoset to give them 12,000 additional acres of Pemaquid land. Samoset knew that land came from the Great Spirit, was as endless as the sky, and belonged to no man. To humor these strangers in their strange ways, however, he went through a ceremony of transferring the land and made his mark on a paper for them. It was the first deed of Indian land to English colonists.

Most of the other settlers, coming in by thousands now, did not bother to go through such a ceremony. By the time Massasoit, great chief of the Wampanoags, died in 1662 his people were being pushed back into the wilderness. His son Metacom foresaw doom for all Indians unless they united to resist the invaders. Although the New Englanders flattered Metacom by crowning him King Philip of Pokanoket, he devoted most of his time to forming alliances with the Narragansetts and other tribes in the region.

In 1675, after a series of arrogant actions by the colonists, King Philip led his Indian confederacy into a war meant to save the tribes from extinction. The Indians attacked fifty-two settlements, completely destroying twelve of them, but after months of fighting, the firepower of the colonists virtually exterminated the Wampanoags and Narragansetts. King Philip was killed and his head publicly exhibited at Plymouth for twenty years. Along with other captured Indian women and children, his wife and young son were sold into slavery in the West Indies.

When the Dutch came to Manhattan Island, Peter Minuit purchased it for sixty guilders in fishhooks and glass beads, but encouraged the Indians to remain and continue exchanging their valuable peltries for such trinkets. In 1641, Willem Kieft levied tribute upon the Mahicans and sent soldiers to Staten Island to punish the Raritans for offenses which had been committed not by them but by white settlers. The Raritans resisted arrest, and the soldiers killed four of them. When the Indians retaliated by killing four Dutchmen, Kieft ordered the massacre of two entire villages while the inhabitants slept. The Dutch soldiers ran their bayonets through men, women, and children, hacked their bodies to pieces, and then leveled the villages with fire.

For two more centuries these events were repeated again and again as the European colonists moved inland through the passes of the Alleghenies and down the westward-flowing rivers to the Great Waters (the Mississippi) and then up the Great Muddy (the Missouri).

The Five Nations of the Iroquois, mightiest and most advanced of all the eastern tribes, strove in vain for peace. After years of bloodshed to save their political independence, they finally went down to defeat. Some escaped to Canada, some fled westward, some lived out their lives in reservation confinement.

During the 1760’s Pontiac of the Ottawas united tribes in the Great Lakes country in hopes of driving the British back across the Alleghenies, but he failed. His major error was an alliance with French-speaking white men who withdrew aid from the peaux-rouges during the crucial siege of Detroit.

A generation later, Tecumseh of the Shawnees formed a great confederacy of midwestern and southern tribes to protect their lands from invasion. The dream ended with Tecumseh’s death in battle during the War of 1812.

Between 1795 and 1840 the Miamis fought battle after battle, and signed treaty after treaty, ceding their rich Ohio Valley lands until there was none left to cede.

When white settlers began streaming into the Illinois country after the War of 1812, the Sauks and Foxes fled across the Mississippi. A subordinate chief, Black Hawk, refused to retreat. He created an alliance with the Winnebagos, Pottawotamies, and Kickapoos, and declared war against the new settlements. A band of Winnebagos, who accepted a white soldier chief’s bribe of twenty horses and a hundred dollars, betrayed Black Hawk, and he was captured in 1832. He was taken East for imprisonment and display to the curious. After he died in 1838, the governor of the recently created Iowa Territory obtained Black Hawk’s skeleton and kept it on view in his office.

In 1829, Andrew Jackson, who was called Sharp Knife by the Indians, took office as President of the United States. During his frontier career, Sharp Knife and his soldiers had slain thousands of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, but these southern Indians were still numerous and clung stubbornly to their tribal lands, which had been assigned them forever by white men’s treaties. In Sharp Knife’s first message to his Congress, he recommended that all these Indians be removed westward beyond the Mississippi. I suggest the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi … to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes, as long as they shall occupy it.

Although enactment of such a law would only add to the long list of broken promises made to the eastern Indians, Sharp Knife was convinced that Indians and whites could not live together in peace and that his plan would make possible a final promise which never would be broken again. On May 28, 1830, Sharp Knife’s recommendations became law.

Two years later he appointed a commissioner of Indian affairs to serve in the War Department and see that the new laws affecting Indians were properly carried out. And then on June 30, 1834, Congress passed An Act to Regulate Trade and Intercourse with the Indian Tribes and to Preserve Peace on the Frontiers. All that part of the United States west of the Mississippi and not within the States of Missouri and Louisiana or the Territory of Arkansas would be Indian country. No white persons would be permitted to trade in the Indian country without a license. No white traders of bad character would be permitted to reside in Indian country. No white persons would be permitted to settle in the Indian country. The military force of the United States would be employed in the apprehension of any white person who was found in violation of provisions of the act.

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. (This line ran from Lake of the Woods on what is now the Minnesota-Canada border, slicing southward through what are now the states of Minnesota and Iowa, and then along the western borders of Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, to Galveston Bay, Texas.) To keep the Indians beyond the 95th meridian and to prevent unauthorized white men from crossing it, soldiers were garrisoned in a series of military posts that ran southward from Fort Snelling on the Mississippi River to forts Atkinson and Leavenworth on the Missouri, forts Gibson and Smith on the Arkansas, Fort Towson on the Red, and Fort Jesup in Louisiana.

More than three centuries had now passed since Christopher Columbus landed on San Salvador, more than two centuries since the English colonists came to Virginia and New England. In that time the friendly Tainos who welcomed Columbus ashore had been utterly obliterated. Long before the last of the Tainos died, their simple agricultural and handicraft culture was destroyed and replaced by cotton plantations worked by slaves. The white colonists chopped down the tropical forests to enlarge their fields; the cotton plants exhausted the soil; winds unbroken by a forest shield covered the fields with sand. When Columbus first saw the island he described it as very big and very level and the trees very green … the whole of it so green that it is a pleasure to gaze upon. The Europeans who followed him there destroyed its vegetation and its inhabitants—human, animal, bird, and fish—and after turning it into a wasteland, they abandoned it.

On the mainland of America, the Wampanoags of Massasoit and King Philip had vanished, along with the Chesapeakes, the Chickahominys, and the Potomacs of the great Powhatan confederacy. (Only Pocahontas was remembered.) Scattered or reduced to remnants were the Pequots, Montauks, Nanticokes. Machapungas, Catawbas, Cheraws, Miamis, Hurons, Eries, Mohawks, Senecas, and Mohegans. (Only Uncas was remembered.) Their musical names remained forever fixed on the American land, but their bones were forgotten in a thousand burned villages or lost in forests fast disappearing before the axes of twenty million invaders. Already the once sweet-watered streams, most of which bore Indian names, were clouded with silt and the wastes of man; the very earth was being ravaged and squandered. To the Indians it seemed that these Europeans hated everything in nature—the living forests and their birds and beasts, the grassy glades, the water, the soil, and the air itself.

The decade following establishment of the permanent Indian frontier was a bad time for the eastern tribes. The great Cherokee nation had survived more than a hundred years of the white man’s wars, diseases, and whiskey, but now it was to be blotted out. Because the Cherokees numbered several thousands, their removal to the West was planned to be in gradual stages, but discovery of Appalachian gold within their territory brought on a clamor for their immediate wholesale exodus. During the autumn of 1838, General Winfield Scott’s soldiers rounded them up and concentrated them into camps. (A few hundred escaped to the Smoky Mountains and many years later were given a small reservation in North Carolina.) From the prison camps they were started westward to Indian Territory. On the long winter trek, one of every four Cherokees died from cold, hunger, or disease. They called the march their trail of tears. The Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles also gave up their homelands in the South. In the North, surviving remnants of the Shawnees, Miamis, Ottawas, Hurons, Delawares, and many other once mighty tribes walked or traveled by horseback and wagon beyond the Mississippi, carrying their shabby goods, their rusty farming tools, and bags of seed corn. All of them arrived as refugees, poor relations, in the country of the proud and free Plains Indians.

Scarcely were the refugees settled behind the security of the permanent Indian frontier when soldiers began marching westward through the Indian country. The white men of the United States—who talked so much of peace but rarely seemed to practice it—were marching to war with the white men who had conquered the Indians of Mexico. When the war with Mexico ended in 1847, the United States took possession of a vast expanse of territory reaching from Texas to California. All of it was west of the permanent Indian frontier.

In 1848 gold was discovered in California. Within a few months, fortune-seeking easterners by the thousands were crossing the Indian Territory. Indians who lived or hunted along the Santa Fe and Oregon trails had grown accustomed to seeing an occasional wagon train licensed for traders, trappers, or missionaries. Now suddenly the trails were filled with wagons, and the wagons were filled with white people. Most of them were bound for California gold, but some turned southwest for New Mexico or northwest for the Oregon country.

To justify these breaches of the permanent Indian frontier, the policy makers in Washington 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. Only the New Englanders, who had destroyed or driven out all their Indians, spoke against Manifest Destiny.

In 1850, although none of the Modocs, Mohaves, Paiutes, Shastas, Yumas, or a hundred other lesser-known tribes along the Pacific Coast were consulted on the matter, California became the thirty-first state of the Union. In the mountains of Colorado gold was discovered, and new hordes of prospectors swarmed across the Plains. Two vast new territories were organized, Kansas and Nebraska, encompassing virtually all the country of the Plains tribes. In 1858 Minnesota became a state, its boundaries being extended a hundred miles beyond the 95th meridian, the permanent Indian frontier.

And so only a quarter of a century after enactment of Sharp Knife Andrew Jackson’s Indian Trade and Intercourse Act, white settlers had driven in both the north and south flanks of the 95th meridian line, and advance elements of white miners and traders had penetrated the center.

It was then, at the beginning of the 1860’s, that the white men of the United States went to war with one another—the Bluecoats against the Graycoats, the great Civil War. In 1860 there were probably 300,000 Indians in the United States and Territories, most of them living west of the Mississippi. According to varying estimates, their numbers had been reduced by one-half to two-thirds since the arrival of the first settlers in Virginia and New England. The survivors were now pressed between expanding white populations on the East and along the Pacific coasts—more than thirty million Europeans and their descendants. If the remaining free tribes believed that the white man’s Civil War would bring any respite from his pressures for territory, they were soon disillusioned.

The most numerous and powerful western tribe was the Sioux, or Dakota, which was separated into several subdivisions. The Santee Sioux lived in the woodlands of Minnesota, and for some years had been retreating before the advance of settlements. Little Crow of the Mdewkanton Santee, after being taken on a tour of eastern cities, was convinced that the power of the United States could not be resisted. He was reluctantly attempting to lead his tribe down the white man’s road. Wabasha, another Santee leader, also had accepted the inevitable, but both he and Little Crow were determined to oppose any further surrender of their lands.

Farther west on the Great Plains were the Teton Sioux, horse Indians all, and completely free. They were somewhat contemptuous of their woodland Santee cousins who had capitulated to the settlers. Most numerous and most confident of their ability to defend their territory were the Oglala Tetons. At the beginning of the white man’s Civil War, their outstanding leader was Red Cloud, thirty-eight years old, a shrewd warrior chief. Still too young to be a warrior was Crazy Horse, an intelligent and fearless teen-aged Oglala.

Among the Hunkpapas, a smaller division of the Teton Sioux, a young man in his mid-twenties had already won a reputation as a hunter and warrior. In tribal councils he advocated unyielding opposition to any intrusion by white men. He was Tatanka Yotanka, the Sitting Bull. He was mentor to an orphaned boy named Gall. Together with Crazy Horse of the Oglalas, they would make history sixteen years later in 1876.

Although he was not yet forty, Spotted Tail was already the chief spokesman for the Brulé Tetons, who lived on the far western plains. Spotted Tail was a handsome, smiling Indian who loved fine feasts and compliant women. He enjoyed his way of life and the land he lived upon, but was willing to compromise to avoid war.

Closely associated with the Teton Sioux were the Cheyennes. In the old days the Cheyennes had lived in the Minnesota country of the Santee Sioux, but gradually moved westward and acquired horses. Now the Northern Cheyennes shared the Powder River and the Bighorn country with the Sioux, frequently camping near them. Dull Knife, in his forties, was an outstanding leader of the Northern branch of the tribe. (To his own people Dull Knife was known as Morning Star, but the Sioux called him Dull Knife, and most contemporary accounts use that name.)

The Southern Cheyennes had drifted below the Platte River, establishing villages on the Colorado and Kansas plains. Black Kettle of the Southern branch had been a great warrior in his youth. In his late middle age, he was the acknowledged chief, but the younger men and the Hotamitaneos (Dog Soldiers) of the Southern Cheyennes were more inclined to follow leaders such as Tall Bull and Roman Nose, who were in their prime.

The Arapahos were old associates of the Cheyennes and lived in the same areas. Some remained with the Northern Cheyennes, others followed the Southern branch. Little Raven, in his forties, was at this time the best-known chief.

South of the Kansas-Nebraska buffalo ranges were the Kiowas. Some of the older Kiowas could remember the Black Hills, but the tribe had been pushed southward before the combined power of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. By 1860 the Kiowas had made their peace with the northern plains tribes and had become allies of the Comanches, whose southern plains they had entered. The Kiowas had several great leaders—an aging chief, Satank; two vigorous fighting men in their thirties. Satanta and Lone Wolf; and an intelligent statesman, Kicking Bird.

The Comanches, constantly on the move and divided into many small bands, lacked the leadership of their allies. Ten Bears, very old, was more a poet than a warrior chief. In 1860, half-breed Quanah Parker, who would lead the Comanches in a last great struggle to save their buffalo range, was not yet twenty years old.

In the arid Southwest were the Apaches, veterans of 250 years of guerrilla warfare with the Spaniards, who taught them the finer arts of torture and mutilation but never subdued them. Although few in number—probably not more than six thousand divided into several bands—their reputation as tenacious defenders of their harsh and pitiless land was already well established. Mangas Colorado, in his late sixties, had signed a treaty of friendship with the United States, but was already disillusioned by the influx of miners and soldiers into his territory. Cochise, his son-in-law, still believed he could get along with the white Americans. Victorio and Delshay distrusted the white intruders and gave them a wide berth. Nana, in his fifties but tough as rawhide, considered the English-speaking white men no different from the Spanish-speaking Mexicans he had been fighting all his life. Geronimo, in his twenties, had not yet proved himself.

The Navahos were related to the Apaches, but most Navahos had taken the Spanish white man’s road and were raising sheep and goats, cultivating grain and fruit. As stockmen and weavers, some bands of the tribe had grown wealthy. Other Navahos continued as nomads, raiding their old enemies the Pueblos, the white settlers, or prosperous members of their own tribe. Manuelito, a stalwart mustachioed stock raiser, was head chief—chosen by an election of the Navahos held in 1855. In 1859, when a few wild Navahos raided United States citizens in their territory, the U.S. Army retaliated not by hunting down the culprits but by destroying the hogans and shooting all the livestock belonging to Manuelito and members of his band. By 1860, Manuelito and some Navaho followers were engaged in an undeclared war with the United States in northern New Mexico and Arizona.

In the Rockies north of the Apache and Navaho country were the Utes, an aggressive mountain tribe inclined to raid their more peaceful neighbors to the south. Ouray, their best-known leader, favored peace with white men even to the point of soldiering with them as mercenaries against other Indian tribes.

In the far West most of the tribes were too small, too divided, or too weak to offer much resistance. The Modocs of northern California and southern Oregon, numbering less than a thousand, fought guerrilla-fashion for their lands. Kintpuash, called Captain Jack by the California settlers, was only a young man in 1860; his ordeal as a leader would come a dozen years later.

Northwest of the Modocs, the Nez Percés had been living in peace with white men since Lewis and Clark passed through their territory in 1805. In 1855, one branch of the tribe ceded Nez Percé lands to the United States for settlement, and agreed to live within the confines of a large reservation. Other bands of the tribe continued to roam between the Blue Mountains of Oregon and the Bitterroots of Idaho. Because of the vastness of the Northwest country, the Nez Percés believed there would always be land enough for both white men and Indians to use as each saw fit. Heinmot Tooyalaket, later known as Chief Joseph, would have to make a fateful decision in 1877 between peace and war. In 1860 he was twenty years old, the son of a chief.

In the Nevada country of the Paiutes a future Messiah named Wovoka, who later would have a brief but powerful influence upon the Indians of the West, was only four years old in 1860.

During the following thirty years these leaders and many more would enter into history and legend. Their names would become as well known as those of the men who tried to destroy them. Most of them, young and old, would be driven into the ground long before the symbolic end of Indian freedom came at Wounded Knee in December, 1890. Now, a century later, in an age without heroes, they are perhaps the most heroic of all Americans.


The Long Walk of the Navahos

1860March 12, U.S. Congress passes Pre-emption Bill, providing free land to settlers in western territories. April 3, first Pony Express leaves St. Joseph, Missouri; delivers letters at Sacramento, California, April 13. April 23, Democratic National Convention at Charleston, South Carolina, divides on the slavery issue. May 16–18, Republican National Convention in Chicago nominates Abraham Lincoln for President. June, population of U.S. reaches 31,443,321. July, Spencer repeating rifle invented. November 6, Abraham Lincoln receives only 40 percent of popular vote but wins Presidency. December 20, South Carolina secedes from the Union.

1861February 4, Confederate Congress organized at Montgomery, Alabama. February 9, Jefferson Davis elected President of Confederate States. February 11, Abraham Lincoln says farewell to friends and neighbors at Springfield, Illinois, and leaves by train for Washington. March, President Davis asks for 100,000 soldiers to defend the Confederacy. April 12, Confederates open fire on Fort Sumter. April 14, Fort Sumter falls. April 15, President Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteer soldiers. July 21, First Battle of Bull Run; Union Army falls back on Washington. October 6, rioting Russian students close down University of St. Petersburg. October 25, Pacific Telegraph line between St. Louis and San Francisco completed. December 5, Gatling gun is patented. December 14, British mourn death of Albert, Prince Consort of Queen Victoria. December 30, U.S. banks suspend gold payments.

When our fathers lived they heard that the Americans were coming across the great river westward. … We heard of guns and powder and leadfirst flintlocks, then percussion caps, and now repeating rifles. We first saw the Americans at Cottonwood Wash. We had wars with the Mexicans and the Pueblos. We captured mules from the Mexicans, and had many mules. The Americans came to trade with us. When the Americans first came we had a big dance, and they danced with our women. We also traded.


MANUELITO AND OTHER NAVAHO leaders made treaties with the Americans. Then the soldiers built the fort here, Manuelito remembered, and gave us an agent who advised us to behave well. He told us to live peaceably with the whites; to keep our promises. They wrote down the promises, so that we would always remember them. ¹

Manuelito tried to keep the promises in the treaty, but after the soldiers came and burned his hogans and killed his livestock because of something a few wild young Navahos had done, he grew angry at the Americans. He and his band had been wealthy, but the soldiers had made them poor. To become ricos again they must raid the Mexicans to the south, and for this the Mexicans called them ladrones, or thieves. For as long as anyone could remember, the Mexicans had been raiding Navahos to steal their young children and make slaves of them, and for as long as anyone could remember the Navahos had been retaliating with raids against the Mexicans.

After the Americans came to Santa Fe and called the country New Mexico, they protected the Mexicans because they had become American citizens. The Navahos were not citizens because they were Indians, and when they raided the Mexicans, soldiers would come rushing into the Navaho country to punish them as outlaws. This was all an angry puzzle to Manuelito and his people, for they knew that many of the Mexicans had Indian blood, and yet no soldiers ever went rushing after the Mexicans to punish them for stealing Navaho children.

The first fort the Americans built in the Navaho country was in a grassy valley at the mouth of Canyon Bonito. They called it Fort Defiance, and put their horses out to graze on pastureland long prized by Manuelito and his people. The soldier chief told the Navahos that the pastures belonged to the fort, and ordered them to keep their animals away. Because there was no fencing, the Navahos could not prevent their livestock from straying to the forbidden meadows. One morning a company of mounted soldiers rode out of the fort and shot all the animals belonging to the Navahos.

To replace their horses and mules, the Navahos raided the soldiers’ herds and supply trains. The soldiers in turn began attacking bands of Navahos. In February, 1860, Manuelito led five hundred warriors against the Army’s horse herd, which was grazing a few miles north of Fort Defiance. The Navaho lances and arrows were no match for the well-armed soldier guard. They suffered more than thirty casualties but captured only a few horses. During the following weeks, Manuelito and his ally Barboncito built up a force of more than a thousand warriors, and in the darkness of the early hours of April 30, they surrounded Fort Defiance. Two hours before dawn, the Navahos attacked the fort from three sides. They were determined to wipe it off the face of their land.

They came very near succeeding. With a rattle of fire from their few old Spanish guns, the Navahos drove in the sentries and overran several buildings. As startled soldiers poured from their barracks, they met showers of arrows, but after several minutes of confusion the soldiers formed files and soon commenced a steady musket fire. When daylight came, the Navahos pulled back into the hills, satisfied that they had taught the soldiers a good lesson.

The United States Army, however, considered the attack a challenge of the flag flying over Fort Defiance, an act of war. A few weeks later Colonel Edward Richard Sprigg Canby, at the head of six companies of cavalry and nine of infantry, was scouring the Chuska Mountains in search of Manuelito’s hostiles. The troops marched through the redrock country until they wore out their horses and almost died of thirst. Although they seldom saw any Navahos, the Indians were there, harassing the column’s flanks but making no direct attacks. By the end of the year, both sides grew weary of the foolish game. The soldiers were unable to punish the Navahos, and the Navahos were unable to attend to their crops and livestock.

In January, 1861, Manuelito, Barboncito, Herrero Grande, Armijo, Delgadito, and other rico leaders agreed to meet Colonel Canby at a new fort the soldiers were building thirty-five miles southeast of Fort Defiance. The new fort was called Fort Fauntleroy in honor of a soldier chief. At the end of the parleys with Canby, the Navahos chose Herrero Grande as head chief (February 21, 1861). The leaders agreed that it was best to live in peace, and Herrero Grande promised to drive all ladrones from the tribe. Manuelito was not sure that this promise could be carried out, but he signed his name to Canby’s paper. A prosperous stock raiser again, he believed in the virtues of peace and honesty.

After the winter meeting at Fort Fauntleroy, there were several months of friendship between the soldiers and the Navahos. Rumors reached the Indians of a big war somewhere far to the east, a war between the white Americans of the North and South. They learned that some of Canby’s soldiers had exchanged their bluecoats for Graycoats and gone East to fight against the Bluecoat soldiers there. One of them was the Eagle Chief, Colonel Thomas Fauntleroy; his name was blotted out, and now they called the post Fort Wingate.

In this time of friendship, the Navahos went often to Fort Fauntleroy (Wingate) to trade and draw rations from their agent. Most of the soldiers made them welcome, and a custom grew up of having horse races between the Navahos and the soldiers. All the Navahos looked forward to these contests, and on racing days hundreds of men, women, and children would dress in their brightest costumes and ride their finest ponies to Fort Wingate. On a crisp sunny morning in September several races were run, but the special race of the day was scheduled at noon. It was to be between Pistol Bullet (a name given Manuelito by the soldiers) on a Navaho pony, and a lieutenant on a quarter horse. Many bets were made on this race—money, blankets, livestock, beads, whatever a man had to use for a bet. The horses jumped off together, but in a few seconds everyone could see that Pistol Bullet (Manuelito) was in trouble. He lost control of his pony, and it ran off the track. Soon everyone knew that Pistol Bullet’s bridle rein had been slashed with a knife. The Navahos went to the judges—who were all soldiers—and demanded that the race be run again. The judges refused; they declared the lieutenant’s quarter horse was the winner. Immediately the soldiers formed a victory parade for a march into the fort to collect their bets.

1. Manuelito, chief of the Navahos, painted by Julian Scott for the United States Census Bureau in 1891.

Infuriated by this trickery, the Navahos stormed after them, but the fort’s gates were slammed shut in their faces. When a Navaho attempted to force an entrance, a sentinel shot him dead.

What happened next was written down by a white soldier chief, Captain Nicholas Hodt:

The Navahos, squaws, and children ran in all directions and were shot and bayoneted. I succeeded in forming about twenty men. … I then marched out to the east side of the post; there I saw a soldier murdering two little children and a woman. I hallooed immediately to the soldier to stop. He looked up, but did not obey my order. I ran up as quick as I could, but could not get there soon enough to prevent him from killing the two innocent children and wounding severely the squaw. I ordered his belts to be taken off and taken prisoner to the post. … Meanwhile the colonel had given orders to the officer of the day to have the artillery [mountain howitzers] brought out to open upon the Indians. The sergeant in charge of the mountain howitzers pretended not to understand the order given, for he considered it as an unlawful order; but being cursed by the officer of the day, and threatened, he had to execute the order or else get himself in trouble. The Indians scattered all over the valley below the post, attacked the post herd, wounded the Mexican herder, but did not succeed in getting any stock; also attacked the expressman some ten miles from the post, took his horse and mail-bag and wounded him in the arm. After the massacre there were no more Indians to be seen about the post with the exception of a few squaws, favorites of the officers. The commanding officer endeavored to make peace again with the Navahos by sending some of the favorite squaws to talk with the chiefs; but the only satisfaction the squaws received was a good flogging. ²

2. Juanita, wife of Manuelito, as a member of the Navaho delegation to Washington in 1874. Photo from the Smithsonian Institution.

After that day, September 22, 1861, it was a long time before there was friendship again between white men and Navahos.

Meanwhile an army of Confederate Graycoats had marched into New Mexico and fought big battles with the Bluecoats along the Rio Grande. Kit Carson, the Rope Thrower, was a leader of the Bluecoats. Most of the Navahos trusted Rope Thrower Carson because he had always talked one way to the Indians and they hoped to make peace with him when he was finished with the Graycoats.

In the spring of 1862, however, many more Bluecoats came marching into New Mexico from the west. They called themselves the California Column. Their General James Carleton wore stars on his shoulders and was more powerful than the Eagle Chief, Carson. These Californians camped along the Rio Grande Valley, but they had nothing to do because the Graycoats had all fled into Texas.

The Navahos soon learned that Star Chief Carleton had a great hunger for their land and whatever metal wealth might be hidden under it. A princely realm, he called it, a magnificent pastoral and mineral country. As he had many soldiers with nothing to do but march around their parade grounds rattling their guns, Carleton began looking about for Indians to fight. The Navahos, he said, were wolves that run through the mountains and must be subdued.

Carleton turned his attention first to the Mescalero Apaches, who numbered less than a thousand and lived in scattered bands between the Rio Grande and the Pecos. His plan was to kill or capture all Mescaleros and then confine the survivors on a worthless reservation along the Pecos. This would leave the rich Rio Grande Valley open for land claims and settlement by American citizens. In September, 1862, he sent out an order:

There is to be no council held with the Indians, nor any talks. The men are to be slain whenever and wherever they can

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  • (5/5)
    This is one of those book that is iconic to the American Indian Movement and a necessary read for anyone who wants to understand Native history and the roots of today's Indian political situations.Although I was familiar the histories of the western tribes where I live, there were many tribes whose stories I didn't know. Lies, broken treaties, bad faith action for political reasons, starvation – all to get them onto reservations, where to paraphrase [[Sherman Alexie]] is where Indians go to die.Same songDifferent verseLittle bit loaderLittle bit worse
  • (5/5)
    Broke my heart over and over again. The picture of the greatest men of entire races being butchered, often under a flag of truce or a promise of parley, by idiot, drunken soldiers will never leave me. And the white men honestly thought they were superior! We made treaties with Native Americans for one reason--to break them. Read it and weep.
  • (5/5)
    A historical account of the "Indian Wars," or the interaction of the United States and Native American tribes of the West between 1860 and 1890, as perhaps would have been told from the Native American perspective.The author gives an overview of what happened around the world for each year under discussion, and pieces together the various tragic interactions between Native Americans and the US Army. One quickly learns how the Native Americans are despised and treated terribly; justification is never offered for some of their behaviors, but they are put in better context and thus more comprehensible. What fails to be justifiable is the treachery, betrayal, and genocidal tendencies that marked the United States Army in its relations with the Native Americans. You learn to expect that every treaty will be dishonored or "re-negotiated" to the harm of the Natives. You learn how corrupt profiteers in the Indian Affairs bureau won large contracts and sent rotten food, making a lot of money but proving responsible for the deaths of countless Natives. You learn how people who want to be left alone and to maintain their integrity are dehumanized and herded like cattle when not slaughtered, and yet these are the people called the "savages," and those who perpetrated such injustices claimed to be bringing "civilization." A powerful reckoning with a shameful part of American heritage; a work every American citizen should read and on which they should reflect.
  • (4/5)
    I have three primary impressions of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.The first is how little it surprised me. All crowing aside, with only a few exceptions (these mostly concerning events/personages in Arizona where I happened to live for years) I couldn't have said a particular tribe or leader was in that specific area or recounted how this area of land was swindled away while that land mass over there was taken away through the implementation of direct force. I'm not sweating those details now either. I know they'll get mixed-up and blended in my mind in short order anyway. No, what gratifies me is that, at least according to Dee Brown, I intuitively had it right from the beginning. And by this I mean simply my prior references are in accordance with the book. The final part of this chain is that I think the book has it right.The second impression is a reflection of how ironic a term "illegal alien" is when used in the USA. And finally there is this quote from the introduction: "It was an incredible era of violence, greed, audacity, sentimentality, undirected exuberance, and an almost reverential attitude toward the idea of personal freedom for those who already had it."
  • (5/5)
    Knew going into reading this book that it would be sad. But it was even more so. It was a frustrating tale of America. Just wish there was a way to hit a redo button. Would of loved to see what the Indians that died could've made for themselves if given the chance to breathe.
  • (4/5)
    You knew how this story was going to go before page 1: US leaders make promises, break promises, then slaughter any Native American who has the nerve to be upset by this. But, even knowing this before starting the book, I was still amazed at some of the tactics used by government leaders in order to accomplish their goals. I appreciated the timeline at the beginning of each chapter to help gain a little perspective of when these events were happening. I also appreciated the first-hand stories provided from primary sources. I wish there had been more information given about the first Indian Bureau Chief that was actually a Native American (under President Grant). Overall, an interesting, and saddening read. I learned a lot from this book.
  • (4/5)
    39. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee : An Indian History of the American West (Audio) by Dee Brownreader: Grover Gardnerpublished: 1970 (with preface from 2000)format: Overdrive digital audio, 14:21 (~398 pages)acquired: Librarylistened: Sep 12-27rating: 4I know the record with Native Americans in the US is bad, really bad, but still, this leaves a discouraging and strong impression. So I picked this from library after recently doing a quick search for books on Native Americans (while driving through South Dakota and the Black Hills and 5000 miles of other places), and this book came up lot and was first on many lists, and it has a memorable title. So actually when I saw it on my library's audio list, I was really excited.I don't know what I was expecting, but I was surprised by Grove Gardner's old documentary-serious voice that I usually associate with stodgy old history books and, well, old TV documentaries. And then I was surprised by how much this book resembles a stodgy old history book. It just lays out the facts, and sticks to well-known well-documented info. It's a straightforward narrative. There is no analysis and no exploration of the surrounding stories. No penetrating insight into Native American culture - or even an effort at trying to do that. And then I was surprised at the limited scope. The first chapter takes place in the 1940's, but mostly this book is about a short era from 1860 to roughly 1890 - the era when the Indians on the Great Plains were wiped out, survivors sent to starve on reservations. So, early on I was kind of discouraged by what it might cover.But the book carries on, grinding from tribe to destroyed tribe, from massacre to massacre. The old and young die off from exposure, massacres or starvation in reservations. The warriors, hopeless from page one, try many different strategies, but they are all, everyone one hopeless. The leadership of each tribe tried to find their own way to manage white incursion, attacks, massacres and oppression, all were left desperate and all saw their tribes brought down, and eventually survivors were starved on a reservation.The repetitive nature leaves a mark. Each native tribe was forced by desperation to fight, waging a short brutal vengeance on the US military and then succumbing to complete defeat. Every native victory was a Pyrrhic one, especially that of Crazy Horse over Custer - one of many unprovoked US attacks on native villages of women, elderly and children. Custer was done, but the Sioux were left without ammunition and unable to fight further. No tribe will remain free, none will keep any of the land they want and need, and all faced, eventually, massive die-offs. And this happens over time, tribe by tribe, relentlessly - Santee Sioux, Navajo, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, Nez Perce, Ute, Paiute, Oglala Sioux, other Sioux, Modoc, etcOne big thing that struck me was how the reservations were such a death trap. Once there, tribes withered from exposure and lack of food, their numbers whittled away right in front of the Americans responsible for supplying them. The supply train was mainly a source of profit and mass corruption for the suppliers with often little or nothing actually supplied. I hadn't realized this.While this was not really the book I was looking for, it has its place as a classic and it has importance in the weight of injustice - and it's just one window, all perpetuated over just one small well-documented era, in plain sight. There is no mist of history here.
  • (4/5)
    This is probably the most depressing and tragic book I've ever read. It just goes on and on, injustice after injustice, murder after murder. If it were fiction, you'd have to ding the author for giving no relief. But it's not. Getting through this description of genocide, which happened right here through our own government, is traumatic. So why would I rate it so highly? I loved the respect the author gives to the native Americans, especially with the careful use of quotes directly from them, and I love the way each chapter is begun with a list of the more familiar history of what was happening at that time. It makes the events of the battles with the Indians connect with me -- they aren't so very long ago. It's a worthwhile book, and I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone.
  • (5/5)
    The most haunting book I've ever read. It shattered my belief in the nation's mythology and forced me to realize the US's legacy of plunder and destruction of Native American communities. It is a book everyone should read, just because it is a necessary antidote to every western we've ever watched and every piece of revisionist history we were fed as children.
  • (5/5)
    Essential reading in Native American history. Every American citizen should read this book.
  • (4/5)
    DEVASTATING. Very difficult reading. Dense. I am very glad it was written and that I have read it. The language used is perfect. I don't know how to properly convey to what extent this book upset me. Everyone should read it. Maybe you think you know what has happened to Native Americans, but you do not know the half of it. In 30 years, 1860-1890, the people were destroyed, and along with them fauna, flora and a whole different way of looking at life. Progress? Yeah, sure...... Depressing, so depressing.Excellent narration by Grover Gardner.
  • (4/5)
    An absolutely blunt and heart-wrenching account of the white expansion into the American west from the Native American's point of view. I like how each chapter focused on a different tribe or event if the tribe's plight was revisited. The only thing that I wish the book included were maps, which would be very helpful for someone (me) not familiar with the areas as well as an overall timeline.Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2015 Task 9: By or about indigenous culture.
  • (4/5)
    It's been fifteen years since I first read this. I think it's time to make myself cry with it again.
  • (5/5)
    One of the greatest books written on Native Americans and personally an all time favorite. It is a heart wrenching work that tells, from the Native's point of view, the countless atrocities that were committed against them by the U.S. government. It is painful at times to read of such horrors and crimes but it is a book that all Americans need to read to truly understand our governments history concerning the native people. An absolute classic in American literature and should become required reading in all high schools. If you are to only read one book on Native Americans, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is the correct choice.
  • (5/5)
    Broke my heart over and over again. The picture of the greatest men of entire races being butchered, often under a flag of truce or a promise of parley, by idiot, drunken soldiers will never leave me. And the white men honestly thought they were superior! We made treaties with Native Americans for one reason--to break them. Read it and weep.
  • (4/5)
    Trail of Tears. Manifest Destiny. Phrases and words we have heard before, definitely learned about in high school but, I'm guessing, the origins of which we haven't given much thought. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has a subtitle of "an Indian History of the American West" and what a sad history it is! Before each chapter in the book is a snapshot of what shape the country was in that historical moment. A great deal was going on as it was during the American western expansion and the discovery of gold, starting in 1860 when the Navaho leader, Manuelito, was beaten down until surrendering to the white man. It's a shameful book to read. So many broken promises. So many different times a white man approached a tribal leader with negotiations and treaties that only ended in bald faced lies.
  • (4/5)
    This is a colourful and episodic account of the major USA and Indian fights of the 1866 to 1895 period. The story is sad, and it seems that some of these shoot-outs were easily avoidable, except for the white tendency to resort to their obvious military advantage. War can't be made pretty, and the professionals work hard at it being as unfair as possible, so there's not much uplifting homily here.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent book on the systematic annihilation of the Native Americans. OK, it is more than just that though there were times I had to put the book down. Dee Brown journeys from the first displacement of the Navahos and the Apaches as California was settled, to the final slaughter of Sioux prisoners at Wounded Knee, the catalogue of broken promises, treaties and battles is a tragic but essential story. I've known some of the historical relationship of the US to Native Americans, but I felt like a clueless, WWII German might feel when they realize the Jews were actually killed in the camps. I love my country but we've got a whole lot of repentance to do as time after time military and government force was used to wholesale slaughter men, women, and children (even babies). Brilliant research and smooth writing make this required historical reading.
  • (3/5)
    Stale. Very, very stale. It's almost like bullet-point list of events with the occasional flourish or quote. This happened, then this happened, then that happened, then a few primary source quotes. Not sure why people like this.
  • (4/5)
    Heartbreaking and powerful. This book is a bit of a hard read for two reasons. Firstly, the story is not that well presented. The narrative clear relatively soon and then it is repeated and repeated. Quotes are repeated and random historical facts are presented without context at the beginning of each chapter. The second reason it is powerful is that despite the author not presenting the material in the best way, this history does not need to be tarted up to be powerful.

    The callousness with which the native Americans are screwed over again and again is alone enough to create a heavy impact. This book will never leave you.
  • (5/5)
    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee should be required reading for every high school and college student in the country. Filled with horrific and heartbreaking stories from the history of the interactions between Native Americans and white men, it is brutally honest about both sides of the story. Dee Brown managed to take the documents and history of Native Americans, and recount them from the Native American point of view.

    When I started reading this book I thought I had a pretty good handle on what had happen to the American Indians. Sure, they had gotten a raw deal and lost their land to the white people, and what happened was horrible, I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was the accounts of intentional slaughter of whole tribes, including women and children, at the order of U.S. officials.

    This history book is beautiful to look at, yet sorrowful to read. The illustrations and photographs are excellent, and are printed on high quality paper. It has the look and feel of a coffee table book, while having the content of a history text.

    Each section starts with a timeline of what was going on in the world to give a backdrop to the events that are going to be discussed. What it contains is a history of interactions between the white people and the Native Americans, but it is not a comprehensive history of the Native American people (which I think would be impossible to fit into one volume anyway, never mind the lack of sources because of how many tribes have died away).

    Major conflicts are addressed in each chapter. For example, there are chapters about: the Navahos, Cheyennes, Apaches, and Nez Perces and their struggles as tribes. There are also chapters dealing with individual Native American leaders such as Little Crow, Red Cloud, Captain Jack, and Standing Bear. Many other Native American leaders and tribes are discussed within the chapters of this book as well.

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee documents many, many tragedies, but does a good job of providing the information in chronological order so that you can see the progression of events; the cause and effect. The stories of massacres are not limited to those inflicted on the Native Americans, but also tell of those for which the Native Americans were responsible. Also, the efforts of honest and kind white Americans were recognized throughout the stories (even if their efforts did prove futile in many cases).

    In almost every account, even if the Native Americans were at fault for something, whether it was the theft of an animal or the killing of white people, the response from the government was disproportionate, and many times targeted at the wrong people. For example, a tribe from a different location would steal some farm animals, and then the local peaceful tribe of Native Americans would be blamed and attacked. Then the peaceful Native Americans would defend themselves, and once they were at war with the white people there was no going back. Their people and land were either destroyed, or they were sent to reservations where they could be kept penned up and watched.

    What astonished me even more was the systematic mistreatment of the Native Americans on reservations. They were denied the right to hunt (because the whites didn't want them to have guns and ammunition) yet they weren't given enough food to eat. Add onto that the fact that many were taken from their homelands and made to live in an environment that they were not suited to (whether it was heat or humidity). Many Native Americans died from lack of food, while others died of sickness caused or made worse by their new environment.

    The tragedies in this book are too numerous and complicated to list in this review. They are so surprising and so far from what I learned in my high school history class that I am compelled to recommend this book to all Americans. It may not be the most pleasant thing to read about, but we should all know more about this chapter of our history.

    This fortieth anniversary edition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a beautiful book, and would make a perfect gift for anyone who is interested in Native American history, or anyone who is interested in photographs of Native Americans. There was a nice selection of photographs from diverse sources, including more than twenty by Edward S. Curtis.
  • (5/5)
    Although now in print for over 40 years this is still the quintessential story of the Indians' demise in the west. It tells of the continual push against the Indians by white society with the overt support of the United States government. Treaties made were broken. Massacres happened repeatedly against women and children. When lands were identified as valuable for mining, farming or ranching, it was only the matter of a short time before the Indians would be pushed somewhere off these lands.In the annals of genocide this surely stands as one of the most perfidious cases in history. As the continent was populated by European settlers, the clash of markedly different cultures was probably inevitable, but surely a democratic, enlightened, Christian-oriented society could have behaved honestly and respectfully toward their fellow inhabitants of the continent.The stereotypes of wild west Indians and heroic western settlers receives the debunking it deserves. Our shame as a nation for the treatment of native Americans should never be out of our consciouness.
  • (4/5)
    I listened to this to get the big picture, because I realized that I would probably not read it diligently in print. The big picture is not pretty -- the Indians (or Native Americans) were treated horribly by the Americans. The Americans broke promises, massacred whole villages, and they basically put on Indians on welfare in order to get them to give up rights to the land. I realize that this book is biased so the author minimized Indian misdeeds, but it also does sound like most of the Indian acts were in retribution to the American ones. This is a shameful era in our country's history.I would love to read a book written by a really knowledgeable author that's a reimagining of history. How should the clash of the settlers and the Indians have been handled? Was there a more humane solution? Or was might makes right the only way?
  • (4/5)
    This is a history of America from the Aboriginal perspective: looking east rather than looking west. It covers the period from 1860 to 1890, with chapters on each major tribe. It is a sad story of displacement and the end of a way of life. It is a story that forms an important part of understanding our history. This book is a classic that stands the test of time. There is not a lot of analysis in it, which allows the voice of the Aboriginals centre stage. With so much of history told by the victors, this is an important perspective to deepen our understanding of history.
  • (5/5)
    I continue to be tardy about reading books that I should have read years ago. This is such a book.I have to admit that I thought the book would be nothing but a big “downer” or worse, a propaganda piece, crying about how badly Native Americans were treated by the awful white men who stole their lands.While it is true that the Indians had their lands stolen and that they were lied to, cheated, and mistreated – and much worse -- by the whites who dominated, the book is not just a continuous white man bashing. Although few and far between, it seems, there were some good whites and some who were bad, over time, changed from “bad” to “good,” General George Crook, for example. Not all Indians were “good” either.The book consists of nineteen chapters and each one is indeed a tale of conquered Indians and conquering whites, covering roughly the years 1860 to 1890.The author is not an Indian, but writes from the perspective of a sympathetic human as he relates one injustice after another that whites perpetrated upon the Indians.The book has an index and is enhanced by the inclusion of 49 photos or paintings of Indians of the period. While I am late in reading this book, which has become a classic, I am glad to have finely read it and have it in my library.I have to admit that I was surprised and disappointed that William F. M. Arny, appointed Indian Agent for the New Mexico Territory in 1862 by President Lincoln, and who succeeded Kit Carson, was not mentioned in the book.
  • (4/5)
    The 40th Anniversary Edition includes 19 essays and excerpts - culled from firsthand accounts. from council records, auto-biographies, and firsthand descriptions allowing warriors and leaders of the Lakota Sioux, Comanche, Cheyenne, Navajo, Apache, Nez Perce and other Indians tell of broken treaties and massacres that left them decimated. 300 illustrations, color maps & drawings, numerous B/W photographs.
  • (5/5)
    I have to first start off by saying that I have never trusted anyone who was or is a politician. I have always said that politicians lie, cheat and steal from their so called friends. So now on that happy note I have to say that I am some what surprised at what I read in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Mainly because of the way The White men swindled the Indians out of their land. As I read the book I would gasp at the things that I read. I hate to even think that I am possibly related to any of those white men. I do remember reading about the Trail of Tears, when I worked in the fourth grade. I just remember not really understanding why that happened. You are made to think that the Indians did some thing wrong and are savages.This is a book that everyone should take the time to read. There is so much more information in this book then in any American History book you will ever read. We owe those Indians a lot. As I was reading the book I was talking to my husband's one uncle and he said that I would be shocked by the truth. He was right. And to think that all these years I never knew what I know now. I am glad to say that my kids are part Indian/Native American on their father's side. My son has been told that he looks like a Native American even with is red hair and blue eyes.I loved this book and I am going to be looking for more books about Indians/Native American.
  • (5/5)
    It's been a long time since I read it, but I was reminded of it recently by watching the movie of the same name. It's a great book, and a powerful history that will move you. Scholarly but simply told, and heartbreaking. It can be difficult to read because of the cruelty and treachery of the white settlers, but I think it's important for people to know this part of American history. It will likely stir up many emotions - sadness, shock, outrage, guilt - and I've known some who simply could not finish it because of that. See it through.
  • (4/5)
    I mentioned at some point in the last month that i wanted to take a break from the fantasy-romance-fantasy-romance pattern I'd fallen into. I wanted to read something more non-fictionish, something that made me think.Despite the depressing nature of the book and stopping mid-way to read Harry Potter, I was able to finish it. I'm glad I did, but I didn't enjoy it.How can you enjoy a book like this? Sure, I like History as much as the next guy (probably more), and I have always known that what the white settlers and the US Government have done to the Indians* was horrible and reprehensible. I know that what I've learned until now is one-sided: it's the same old story - "History is written by the victors". So going into this, I thought I'd be disturbed and saddened, but probably not surprised.This book made me realize a few things about myself and prejudices and skepticism. So, my ugly middle-class-white-privilege shows through. And I hate that. I feel ill typing that. But there's nothing I can do: if I ignore it, it remains and I remain a product of my freaking aristocratic roots. If I try to work past it, I have to deal with it and its ugliness. It's no-win.I found myself being skeptical of what I was reading as I read it. Cold hard facts are hard to deny. e.g.: These people and those people fought, those people lost 30% of their warriors and these people imprisoned the rest. Those are the kinds of things that I can relate to on a purely logical level. But when dialogue and characterization is introduced, I start to lose my even perception a bit. I thought that Dee Brown was slanting it the other direction, going on and on about the white people's trickery, theivery, and murder; and portraying the Indians as simple pacifists who never retaliated, or even provoked a little trickery, theivery, and murder themselves. Reading something that I know is slanted usually bothers me. Reading somthing that I know is slanted against what I have been taught bothers me a lot, and that made me approach this book with a stand-offish attitute. As the book went on I like to think that I started to lose that attitude...or maybe I just became desensitized to the atrocities Dee Brown was describing. They never use the word "genocide" in the book, but the word "extermination" was tossed around a few times. I guess "genocide" was too human a term for the white settlers and Government to apply to the Indians.I did a bit of research as I went along. I went to the internet and some image databases to see if any images existed of Red Cloud, Kicking Bird, Sitting Bull, whomever I was reading about. It was hard for me to realize that this didn't happen that long ago. This might be something obvious to most people, but I'm a student of Classical History. When I hear "long ago", we're talking 2,000 years. This is within just a handful of generations. The book covers just 30 years: 1860-1890. That's all it took and the continent was drastically changed. Entire nations were wiped out. People were herded and scattered. They never saw their homes again. Their children died. Not just their people, but their way of life was attacked. This all happened within the last 150 years."California Indians were gentle as the climate in which they lived. The Spaniards gave them names, established missions for them, converted and debauched them. Tribal organizations were undeveloped among the California indians; each village had its leaders, but there were no great war chiefs among these unwarlike people. After the discovery of gold in 1848, white men from all over the world poured into California by the thousands, taking what they wanted from the submissive Indians, debasing those whome the Spaniards had not already debased, and then systematically exterminating whole populations now long forgotten. No one remembers the Chilulas, Chimarikos, Urebures, Nipewais, Alonas, or a hundred other bands whose bones have been sealed under a million miles of freeways, parking lots, and slabs of tract housing." Brown, pg.214One day I was reading this on the bus and a Native American woman sat down next to me. I instantly felt uncomfortable and put the book away. I don't know why. I havent' sat and thought about that.So, here I am, not sure what to think. I am glad that I read this book, even though it revealed things about my country's recent history and about myself that I was relatively blissfully unaware of.*PC? Not PC? That's what they refer to themselves as throughout the book, so I'm using it here, within context.
  • (5/5)
    This is a moving and engaging history of the fall of the aboriginal tribes of the western United States. It's a tragic story, but an inspiring one as well. One of the best history books I've ever read. This was on my summer reading list in high school and I was so engrossed I ended up spending a good portion of our family camping trip just devouring this book.