Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee


Dee Brown\'s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a fully documented account of the annihilation of the American Indian in the late 1800s ending at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Brown brings to light a story of torture and atrocity not well known in American history. The fashion in which the American Indian was exterminated is best summed up in the words of Standing Bear of the Poncas, "When people want to slaughter cattle they drive them along until they get them to a corral, and then they slaughter them. So it was with us.... "

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a work of non-fiction, attempts to tell the story of the American West from the perspective of the indigenous population, The American Indian. That in itself makes Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee an important work of literature as it is one of the few books supporting the Indian cause. This is done through the use of council records, autobiographies, and first-hand accounts.

Each of the book\'s nineteen chapters deals with a certain tribe, battle, or historical event. Brown goes into deep and explicit detail throughout, as evidenced by the book\'s nearly 500 pages. However, while some may complain Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is boring or text-book-like, I believe the opposite is actually true. Generally, very little is known about this terrible genocide and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a wonderful and interesting learning tool. Brown has written many books about the life of the American Indian, including Creek Mary\'s Blood and Killdeer Mountain, but Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is clearly his greatest work.

Brown made sure to include songs, quotes, and portraits sprinkled throughout the book. These are very important as they break the monotony of page after page of text. The portraits are well selected and placed, as are the quotes, and help present a wider picture of the point in history.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee helps to open a door into our past. It forces us to look at the dark side of our American history and the lengths white men went to fulfill our Christian manifest destiny. With the exception of a few soldiers and civilians, the white man is portrayed as an indiscriminate murderer and sadist. They killed Native Americans regardless of age or sex often scalping and mutilating the bodies, and even going as far as cutting their genitalia from their bodies. These bizarre and shocking revelations give the reader a horrifying view of the birth of our great nation.

As with any book of this nature, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has a few shortcomings. One of the greatest, I believe, is the language Brown used. In some places, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is difficult to understand and could lose potential readers. This is a book every American should read, but the writing techniques and vocabulary used prove to be a challenge. However, the events this book reveals make reading it worthwhile.

Another complaint is that each chapter tells the same story, just with different tribes. But, I believe Brown had a purpose for writing this way. It shows that no matter where the Indians turned, they were slaughtered. This is a powerful point and I believed it was clearly conveyed.

The merits of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee far outweigh its few faults. It tells a story that is not well known or understood, but is a crucial and horrible part of our American heritage. The book is comprehensive, but only tells the beginning of what was done in the name of manifest destiny and war profiteering.

Dee Brown\'s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a wonderfully written and insightful piece of American literature. The author asks us to confront our past, which may make us uncomfortable. But there are two sides to every story, and Brown shows us the side that we rarely see. By forcing us to think about these issues, Dee Brown accomplished the goal he set out to achieve when he began writing this eye opening account of the American West.