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

Now a special 30th-anniversary edition in both hardcover and paperback, the classic bestselling history The New York Times called "Original, remarkable, and finally heartbreaking...Impossible to put down."Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown's eloquent, fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the ninetee...

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Title:Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
Author:Dee Brown
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Edition Language:English

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

  • Arukiyomi

    It took me a long while to read this.

    It wasn't that it was a boring read. far from it. But it was a disturbing read, and the fact that each chapter follows virtually the same pattern made it that much harder to read. You knew from the start how each chapter would end, though you desperately hoped it wouldn't.

    Dee Brown's book should be required reading for every US citizen and on the book list for anyone considering US citizenship. It

    It took me a long while to read this.

    It wasn't that it was a boring read. far from it. But it was a disturbing read, and the fact that each chapter follows virtually the same pattern made it that much harder to read. You knew from the start how each chapter would end, though you desperately hoped it wouldn't.

    Dee Brown's book should be required reading for every US citizen and on the book list for anyone considering US citizenship. It tells the true story of what the US was built on. Far from what is often claimed, the country was not built on the Christian principles of freedom but rather on what every other country, including my own, was built on: oppression and greed. It isn't this that troubles me. I'm not that naive. What troubles me is how this flies in the face of the many claims I hear that the founding of the US differs from other nations. It belies claims that the US is uniquely placed in the modern world to be the arbiter of global justice.

    The catalogue of crimes against humanity detailed by Brown is chilling, but I was shocked most by where the guilt for these crimes lies. I had originally thought that the native Americans were oppressed and wiped out by settlers, miners, ranchers and mercenaries - the everyday man in the wild west street. Although these people may well have pulled the trigger on more occasions that most, I was stunned by how often the proud and truly great people of that continent were betrayed by the US government and military. Promise after promise was broken. Lies were deliberately told for national gain at their expense from presidents down. It is a shameful story of the greed which fashioned the US into the nation it is today.

    The worst thing about it all is that over 35 years since Brown's book was published, that the average US citizen knows little of how their country was really founded. The west was not won at all, it was stolen outright. It is a humbling indictment of what some claim is the greatest nation the world has ever seen. If this is the greatest nation the world can come up with, we have truly seen that humanity is rotten to the core. The "land of the free" is no longer "the home of the brave."

  • Morgan

    I am FINALLY done with this book. It took me forever to read, largely due to the fact that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Most days I couldn't take reading it for more than 15 minutes.

    That said, I believe it is one of the most important books I have read in my life. I find it absolutely unbelievable that I grew in Wyoming of all places, where many parts of "Bury My Heart" take place. I was surrounded by Native American culture, I learned about them in school, we took field trips to see places

    I am FINALLY done with this book. It took me forever to read, largely due to the fact that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Most days I couldn't take reading it for more than 15 minutes.

    That said, I believe it is one of the most important books I have read in my life. I find it absolutely unbelievable that I grew in Wyoming of all places, where many parts of "Bury My Heart" take place. I was surrounded by Native American culture, I learned about them in school, we took field trips to see places they'd lived, and yet, I NEVER learned about what really happened.

    I love America, I'm thankful I live here, but this book made me angry with the government, past and present. The massacre of the American Indian was nothing short of a holocaust. The reservations they were forced to live on were little better than concentration camps.

    Mostly this book gave me great respect for the beautiful culture and people that was nearly snuffed out. As a horrendously fast-paced and all-consuming America, we could certainly learn a lot from the Indians traditional way of life.

    Every American should read this book.

  • Gaijinmama

    This book is devastating, relentless, and depressing. It should be required reading for all U.S. citizens. High school history classes really should teach kids just exactly how our country expanded west. As an American of European descent, I am thoroughly disgusted. Invasion and destroying other people's cultures is bad enough, but we did even worse than take the Indians' land and systematically destroy so many of their cultures. Read on.

    And yes, it is"cultures", plural. Most white people never

    This book is devastating, relentless, and depressing. It should be required reading for all U.S. citizens. High school history classes really should teach kids just exactly how our country expanded west. As an American of European descent, I am thoroughly disgusted. Invasion and destroying other people's cultures is bad enough, but we did even worse than take the Indians' land and systematically destroy so many of their cultures. Read on.

    And yes, it is"cultures", plural. Most white people never bothered to understand how many different tribes and languages there were.

    To be fair, the book does mention a few white people who tried to do the right thing, including President Ulysses Grant, who hired the first Indian to work

    as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. It's similar to the way some white people were active in the Underground Railroad and in the Civil Rights movement.

    Too little, too late, but at least there were instances of compassion and respect.

    In the 21st century, we have certainly come a long way in terms of cultural sensitivity. But still, in my opinion the worst of it is that we acquired the land from its original inhabitants by lying and cheating and killing women, children, old people and even their horses! (Horses meant freedom and mobility and we just couldn't allow the tribes to have that, so the soldiers would shoot all the ponies.) We made treaties and then broke them as soon as it became inconvenient. There is nothing honorable about that.

    I'm proud to be American, but this aspect of our history is truly shameful. Isn't it wonderful that as Americans we have the right to speak out when something is wrong! People need to read this book, educate themselves, and not let this kind of atrocity happen again.

  • Darwin8u

    - Standing Bear, quoted in Dee Brown's 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee'

    One of the great histories of the United States. Published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a people's history; a history of those who lost, ultimately everything. From the beginning, Brown declares his intentions. He wants to tell t

    - Standing Bear, quoted in Dee Brown's 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee'

    One of the great histories of the United States. Published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a people's history; a history of those who lost, ultimately everything. From the beginning, Brown declares his intentions. He wants to tell the story of the settlement of America (specifically the West) from the point of view of the Indians. "Americans who have always looked westward when reading about this period should read this book facing eastward." Is it a perfect history? No. But did it change some of the historical narratives a generation ago? Hopefully. Did it cause some to look at our myths of the West with a bit more skepticism? Hopefully.

    It was a hard book to read. I'd get through a couple chapters and have to digest it, put it down for a couple days. I live in Arizona. Several reservations are minutes from my house. Many of the spots in this book are places I've been. I was born an hour or two from where Chief Joseph's tribe ran from General Howard. My great, great grandfather was killed by remnants of Butch Cassidy's gang in North East Arizona, not far from where Geronimo and his fellow Apaches roamed. Another great, great father helped convince some Piutes in Southern Utah to murder (and ultimately for awhile, take the blame) an Arkansas wagon train). My roomate my freshman year in college was from the Navajo reservation (he is now an Air Force doctor), going to school on the Manuelito AND ROTC scholarship.

    I understand the history is complex, but reading Brown opens ones eyes to the theme's that happened when an expanding America ran into America's native people. It doesn't matter if the native people were Navajo, Sioux, Cheyenne, Apache, Modoc, Kiowa, Commanche, Nez Percé, Ponca, or Ute. The same theme was played again and again (because it worked for white Americans):

    1. White Americans would start invading native territorial land

    2. A treaty would be signed allowing those from a certain tribe to keep a certain amount of land, in exchange for food or provisions

    3. Some of the tribe would sign (because of greed or threats).

    4. Food wouldn't be given, or would be stolen, and the land boundaries would not be respected.

    5. Gold, minerals, farmable land, etc., would be coveted by miners, farmers, or the US Government and treaties wouldn't be respected.

    6. The treaty would again me disrespected.

    7. The tribe would be provoked, often slaughtered.

    8. Indians would respond.

    9. The Army would come in and slaughter more.

    10. Tribes would be moved from their land, to disagreeable land somewhere distant.

    11. Members of the tribe would die from illness.

    12. Leaders of the tribe would become disgruntaled because of mistreatment, lies, and poor conditions.

    13. Leaders would be imprissioned or assassinated.

    Rinse and repeat. Again and again.

    Again, history is complex. Many of the actors I respected from Civil War history had a horrible relationship with Native Americans. There were a few men in this book that indeed were heroic. White men occasionally acted with dignity towards Native Americans. But the exceptions were VERY exceptional. Often, we treated the American Indian as something to be removed, destroyed, cheated, profited off, and mostly ignored.

    I think some things have changed, but then I see how we treated the Navajo Nation, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni in regards to Bears Ears earlier late last year (motivation? mining). I think of how we treated the Hunkpapa Lakota, Sihasapa Lakota and Yanktonai Dakota in regards to Standing Rock early in 2017 (motivation? oil). I think not much has changed. We now don't destroy Native Americans with guns. We either ignore them, dilute them, or just continue to take more and more.

    Having come from a military family of helicopter pilots and calvary officers, I've always found it ironic how the Army now mythologizes the American Indian. From slogans like "Hoka hey!" (usually misattributed to Crazy Horse, but actually uttered by Low Dog). "It's a good day to fight. It's a good day to die." Just counting the helicopters my brother and father-in-law flew, there are Apaches, Blackhawks, Kiowas, etc. Many live and train on bases that were formerly used to fight or house captured Native Americans. It is a weird reverence/respect for an "enemy" the US Army nearly exterminated in the late 1800s. It is odd. The easiest expanation for me is we reverence (in certain areas) the American Indian, so we don't have to feel guilt for our Nation's treatment of and our Nation's responsibilty for what we did to the various tribes of Native Americans.

  • Mariah Roze

    I read this book for the Goodreads' book club Diversity In All Forms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link:

    I also read this as a buddy read with Matt :)

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was extremely heartbreaking, because it was so truthful. This book is told in story form. However, the author got his information from using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions.

    The stories range from multiple different tr

    I read this book for the Goodreads' book club Diversity In All Forms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link:

    I also read this as a buddy read with Matt :)

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was extremely heartbreaking, because it was so truthful. This book is told in story form. However, the author got his information from using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions.

    The stories range from multiple different tribes: Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and more. They tell their stories in their own words about the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that they faced. All these stories were so painful to listen to. The pain, death and defeat (emotionally and physically) that the Native Americans went through and still are going through is so hard.

    I encourage everyone to read this book and any book that they can get their hands on about Native Americans. They are a voice that we don't hear vary often and we learn misleading history about Native Americans in school.

    I hope to read other work by this author, because this book was so fantastically written and informational.

  • Trevor

    This was a remarkably depressing book. It is the sort of book that shows over and over again that there was literally nothing the Native Americans could have done to protect themselves from the all consuming and endlessly veracious greed of the European settlers. Just about every ‘tactic’ imaginable was used by the Native Americans – from treaties to war to abject capitulation – and nothing made any difference. The final result was always the same.

    This is a tale of genocide. It is a tale in whic

    This was a remarkably depressing book. It is the sort of book that shows over and over again that there was literally nothing the Native Americans could have done to protect themselves from the all consuming and endlessly veracious greed of the European settlers. Just about every ‘tactic’ imaginable was used by the Native Americans – from treaties to war to abject capitulation – and nothing made any difference. The final result was always the same.

    This is a tale of genocide. It is a tale in which some of the greatest American heroes – including Abraham Lincoln and General Custer, are shown as being responsible by their action or inaction for this genocide. This book has been much criticised, often on the basis of not being ‘balanced’, particularly in not acknowledging what else was going on in the country at the time that made certain actions of the government more or less inevitable. And, to be honest, I don’t know nearly enough about American history to give an informed opinion on that question, but what is virtually impossible to ignore is the effect of US government actions and inactions throughout this period and that effect was invariably the same – the genocide of the local indigenous populations. I struggle to see how this could be excused by other ‘pressing matters of state’.

    The process was virtually always the same. The government would make a treaty with the local population guaranteeing land to them if they agreed to give up certain other lands. These treaties would then be broken by white settlers or miners. The government would do nothing to remove white settlers from Native American lands, despite their treaty obligations – but tell Indians to either move further west or south and to forsake their lands. There would be a conflict – generally involving atrocities almost too disgusting to restate by European settlers on the native populations – which would then force the native population to retaliate. This would then bring self-righteous slaughter on these ‘savages’. The Native Americans would be moved to land incapable of sustaining them, often with local diseases they had no immunity to, where they would be effectively starved to death by the government, a government which had promised to protect them and supply them with provisions. When it became clear that those directly responsible for them were (almost invariably) exploiting them, the government would effectively say, “Oh yes, we have given him a rather firm slap on the wrist and a very stern talking to. Sorry to hear about your children dying, but things should get better now.”

    When this book was written these ‘wars’ were not a hundred years old. We probably like to think of these times as distant and regrettable – but they are terribly recent and their effects are ever-present. The last massacre of Australian Aboriginals, for example, occurred in 1928.

    There were things that annoyed me about this book. One was the constant use of ‘in the moon when the deer loose their horns’ and other similar phrases, which really started to grate pretty quickly. The author is also much criticised for not quoting his sources – and this is unforgivable. However, that said, none of this leaves much room for celebration over how the Native American population was treated. This is a story of infinite shame.

  • Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*

    Fair warning, there may be some political views in this review which should not be surprising being that this book is the history of a government slaughtering a native people because they were simply in the way.

    This book is a comprehensive history of the Native American from the moment when the white man showed up on this continent. It kind of goes a little like this.

    White guys: “Hey y’all. Love the feathers! Wow its cold and we’re hungry; you wouldn’t be so kind as to help us out.”

    Native Americ

    Fair warning, there may be some political views in this review which should not be surprising being that this book is the history of a government slaughtering a native people because they were simply in the way.

    This book is a comprehensive history of the Native American from the moment when the white man showed up on this continent. It kind of goes a little like this.

    White guys: “Hey y’all. Love the feathers! Wow its cold and we’re hungry; you wouldn’t be so kind as to help us out.”

    Native Americans: Awe, they are just like little children. “Of course we’ll help. We’ll teach you how to hunt and fish and plant crops.”

    White guys: “Thanks! By the way we would like to purchase some land from you, not much, just enough for us to live. What do you say?”

    Native Americans: Purchase land? What do they mean by that? Everyone knows no one owns a part of mother earth. They are sooo adorable. “Alright you can purchase some land” snicker “How do we go about this?”

    White guys: “Well, we will give you some shiny things, trinkets and bobbles and you will sign a piece of paper that says this land ours and that you will stay off of it.”

    Native Americans: These guys hilarious, but just to keep the peace…….”Okay, deal. Bobbles and we shall sign this piece of paper. But what happens if we enter “your land”?

    White guys: “We will kill you.”

    Native Americans: Oh man! They can’t be serious after all the help we gave them; we saved their lives for cripes sake. “uh…..alright, just this once.”

    White guys: “Guess what, we have more friends coming and we need a little more land. Sorry, won’t happen again, but if you don’t hand it over we will kill you.”

    Native Americans: WTF? “Hey, you lied to us! You said you wouldn’t do this again yet here you are. You’re not so cute anymore white guys.” Shit. “We’ll compromise THIS once, but don’t you let it happen again!”

    This happened over and over again. The white man took land, slaughter Indians and the Indians would compromise to avoid war. Many Native American leaders really liked the whites and tried hard to be friends. But some asshat white guys would blow it and more death would happen. Finally some Native American leaders said “ENOUGH!” And went to war, but by then it was too late and they had their asses handed to them.

    Thoughts while I read this…..

    White guys = Republicans (ironicly still white guys)

    Native Americans = Democrates.

    Sometimes lessons are never learned

  • Ahmad Sharabiani

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Dee Alexander Brown

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century. The book expresses details of the history of American expansionism from a point of view that is critical of its effects on the Native Americans. Brown describes Native Americans' displacement through

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Dee Alexander Brown

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century. The book expresses details of the history of American expansionism from a point of view that is critical of its effects on the Native Americans. Brown describes Native Americans' displacement through forced relocations and years of warfare waged by the United States federal government. The government's dealings are portrayed as a continuing effort to destroy the culture, religion, and way of life of Native American peoples. Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor is often considered a nineteenth-century precursor to Dee Brown's writing.

    تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و هشتم ماه مارس سال 1973 میلادی

    عنوان: فاجعه سرخپوستان امریکا (دلم را به خاک بسپار)؛ نویسنده: دی براون؛ مترجم: محمد قاضی؛ مشخصلت نشر: تهران، انتشارات خوارزمی، 1351، در 590 ص، مصور و عکس، کتابنامه به صورت زیرنویس، عنوان دیگر: دلم را در وانددنی به خاک بسپار؛ موضوع: جنگ با سرخپوستان امریکای شمالی - سده 20 م

    رمان همان خشونت وحشتی را باز مینمایاند، که بر دل تمدن ما، نقش بسته است. وحشتی که تمدن مدرن، همه ی تلاشش را کرده، و میکند، تا انسانها آنرا به فراموشی بسپارند، تا به یاد نیاورند، که دستاوردهای بشر، هماره بر روی ویرانه ها، و خون، و زخم شکست خوردگان، بنا شده است. ا. شربیانی

  • Matt

    Dee Brown takes the reader on a thorough and quite disheartening journey through the military and political journey to settle the Western frontier of the United States of America. There is much within this piece of non-fiction that pushes the boundaries and Brown does not hold back in his delivery. The central premise of the book is to explore many of the Indian (and I use this term, as it is peppered throughout by Brown, though I acknowledge is a derogatory term in Canada) settlements and the g

    Dee Brown takes the reader on a thorough and quite disheartening journey through the military and political journey to settle the Western frontier of the United States of America. There is much within this piece of non-fiction that pushes the boundaries and Brown does not hold back in his delivery. The central premise of the book is to explore many of the Indian (and I use this term, as it is peppered throughout by Brown, though I acknowledge is a derogatory term in Canada) settlements and the government’s plan to push tribes off the land on which they have subsisted for generations. The tribal violation continued when the displaced Indian population was forced to settle on lands newly branded the possession of the white man, who sought to develop economic strongholds throughout the westward growth of America. From the Sioux to the Utes and even tackling the more infamous Sitting Bull tales, Brown offers a graphic description of what happened during these battles (labelled ‘wars’) and how both sides took no prisoners, each trying to fight in the way they knew best. While America grew under the watch of numerous Congresses and with the direction of many presidents, Brown shows that no matter their political stripe, land acquisition and further expansion trumped all else. It would seem that only Lincoln and Grant lessened the bloodshed and sought to build connections with the Indian leaders, though treaties drawn up with legalese that did not translate clearly and gun-toting soldiers shot first and asked questions later. The entire book is a sad depiction of the historical progression (regression) of American values and attempts to add to their imperial quiver, which has sadly not stopped into the 21st century, when more dreamed up needs for ‘taming the infidels’ emerged and left future generations full of hate and to carry the burden of being tarred and feathered. Not for those whose hearts are large or skin thin, Brown tells stories of the clashes, battles, and eventual swindling of the Indian population by the white man. Those with much curiosity about the subject can rely on Brown to offer raw and realistic depictions of an indelible stain on (North) American history.

    This is my first book by Dee Brown, read as a favour to a great friend in her choice to initiate me into her book club. Brown’s gut-wrenching honesty is apparent throughout the various chapters, drawing on official documents from both sides (Americans and Indians), as well as historical tomes. The story, if one can divorce one’s self from the narrative and pretend there could be a degree of fiction, reads easily, though is by no means quickly synthesised. That there are elements of gore and ruthless violence is clear, but I feel that to hide or water it down, while perhaps the choice some readers would have sought, could only harm the book. It is important not to hide behind veils in order to pretend things did not happen and for this reason, I feel it is important for many to pick up this book and at least attempt a portion of it, to better understand what generic history tomes might attempt to neutralise. The depth of the research seeps through on every page, as does the premise that western expansion, while a political ideal to grow the foundation of the country, might have been sought while some in Washington were still inebriated on the victory over the Confederacy. I must say that I enjoyed as each chapter opened with a historical snapshot to allow readers to see what else what going on in the world at the time, drawing parallels and dichotomies in equal measure. To say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book would send the wrong sentiment to some readers, though I can appreciate much of the description and feel I am better for having taken the time to read it.

    Now that we have put the formal review to bed, I turn to another piece that arose in me while I tackled this book. I had to ask myself throughout, what purpose Brown had for creating this book, especially with a re-release on the thirtieth anniversary in 2000. Being from Canada, we have been inculcated from a young age that we (the white settlers’ ancestors) are bad and that the aboriginal population have been maligned and harmed, such that apologies are only the tip of the iceberg. I have sat through public school, post-secondary, government jobs, and now the daily news (as well as my current position in the world of Child Protection) learning that the ‘white man is bad’ and that ‘we should rectify things’. Alas, I will dust off my soapbox and climb atop it here, so please skip to the end of you prefer not to hear my opinions. If Brown wanted only to add to the cognizance of the populace and exemplify some of the evils that were done to the Indian population, this book does a stellar job, which is why it won my praise above. If there is an attempt to bash the reader over the head with how bad the American settlers were and to light a flame under them (as has been force-fed Canadians, at least), I cannot express how angry this book makes me. History is a wily beast, though we are taught to always learn from it and build on its foundation, making ourselves better and trying to discover how we can find teachable moments. We have done it with imperialism (to a degree) and with human rights violations (to a lesser degree), but, with the plume in the hands of the victors, history is shaped with a certain flavour. Yes, there are those who are oppressed, perhaps without rhyme or reason, but for as long as the world has existed, the winners of the battles dictate the terms, however unfair as it may be. We can whine and bitch about it, going so far as to cry foul, but it is one of the bittersweet aspects to winning; that you can decide how the future will go. I think that the Canadian example has shown that governments are too worried about pussyfooting around and want to coddle those who make a stink. You lost... it was unfair, but you lost. We could assimilate you entirely and take the Indian out of you (and yes, Canada tried that), but you lost, so you should expect no less. We watched it happen in Africa and Asia for centuries, but no one thought to toss off the shackles when South Africa’s white minority assumed power. We complained and tossed financial penalties, but by and large, we let it happen. And, I must say here, by WE, I mean ancestors and governments around the world. We watched tribes scrubbed out and their language replaced with English, French, Portuguese, and others that still seem to find their way into the daily forms of communication. And yet, do we go in and remove those imperial stains? No, we accept them and hope that the community can, through their own desire, foster strong ancestral ties. Laying down and saying “we won, you keep whatever you want and take more to punish us for toppling your applecart” is not only asinine, but completely defeats the way history has run for centuries. And yet we sit here and twiddle our thumbs, hoping that the defeated will only take enough pie to satiate themselves and leave us, the victors, not to starve. There, rant done! Thank you Dee Brown for giving me a vessel to express them in a quasi-academic format.

    Kudos, Mr. Brown, for bringing renewed attention to this subject in a rooted fashion. I hope that this book (and review) begin a discussion and keep the high-brow conversation developing.

    This book completes my first project in the Diversity in All Forms Book Club, under November Bonus Reads.

    Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

    A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

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