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The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,210 ratings  ·  577 reviews



"Chapter after chapter, it's like one shattered myth after another." - NPR

"An informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait... Treuer's powerful book suggests the need for soul-searching about the meanings of American history and the stories w
Paperback, 528 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Riverhead Books (first published January 22nd 2019)
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AZ BOOKS Definitely this book. It is the entire history of Native Americans and how they are still fighting to keep their culture and land. The first 100 pages…moreDefinitely this book. It is the entire history of Native Americans and how they are still fighting to keep their culture and land. The first 100 pages is devastating but should be required reading for every American.(less)

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Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Treuer: Burning Wooden Indians

Sunday, September 17, 2006

David Treuer is sick and tired of dancing with wolves, throwing tea in the bay, hiding in the cupboard or weeping a single tear at the sight of a littered highway. In conjunction with his new novel, the 35-year-old Ojibwe writer has published a provocative collection of essays that denounce the way Native Americans are imagined in this country. Ugly stereotypes that fed the genocidal campaigns of the 18th and 19th century are mostly
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
a sweeping overview of Indigenous life in America, covering first centuries, then decades, of history at a breakneck pace. the lengthy first part reads like a fast-paced textbook and recaps how tribes across the present-day U.S. lived before the arrival of Europeans + how they responded to differing forms of colonization by the French, English, and Spanish. the work then jolts into a swift account of the American gov’s violent seizure of tribal lands during the 19th century, up to the point of t ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, uni, usa
Now a Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction 2019
"If you want to know America - if you want to see it for what it is - you need to look at Indian history and the Indian present."

In a mixture of history book, reportage, and mémoir, Ojibwe author David Treuer tells the story of Native America after the massacre at Wounded Knee, and by doing so, he is resisting the toxic narrative of the "vanishing Indian" and the tendency to view all Native history as a history of pain. This does not
Lisa Vegan
This book was incredibly hard for me to rate. I think it deserves a 5. Most of the time the reading experience for me was only a 3 and sometimes a 4, and only occasionally a 5, and sometimes even a 2. I can’t in good conscience give it less than a 4 and it pains for not to give it 5 full stars.

This should be a history book (and class) in every high school, preferably mandatory – so different from the false histories I was taught when in K-12. Ideally it would be supplemented with other material
Woman Reading
But to be Indian and alive is no easy thing ... The "story of the Indian" has been a story about loss: loss of land, loss of culture, loss of a way of life. Yes, Indians remain...

David Treuer's The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is part history of Native Americans in the contiguous U.S., part reportage of contemporary Indians, and part memoir as Treuer is Ojibwe. The macro history is far from pretty as Part 1 is titled "Narrating the Apocalypse," which covered pre-history to the pivotal
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
National Book Award for Nonfiction Longlist 2019. Native American author Treuer (Ojibwe) has written an expansive exploration of the progress Native Americans have had in gaining political/cultural autonomy within the United States since the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. The 1970s book by Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, declared that “the culture and civilization of the American Indian was destroyed” during the 1800s. Indeed, in the first half of the book Treuer recounts the numero ...more
Angie Reisetter
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Treuer characterizes this book as 3 journeys in his introduction: a journey into history, a journey across America, and a journey into himself and his identity. He describes all three of theses journeys with great skill, although the historical journey does get a little dry here and there, and his inward journey makes the narrative a little more Minnesota-oriented than it would be coming from someone else (that's a plus for me). After his introduction, which by the end made me want to stand up a ...more
Cathrine ☯️
4 ★
This one belongs on a shelf titled: I have no clue how to rate or talk about this book.
It would be fair to say it reads like a very interesting textbook. Since I'm a fan of the subject I appreciated it but admit that the pages are packed and dense with information all over the place and my brain can wonder with audio books so it did not have my full, undivided attention. Hate to say I was not a fan of the narration by a female and think it should of been done by a male, if not the author hims
Randall Wallace
Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum wrote of Native Americans, “Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect civilization, follow it up with one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.” Charming. By the 1600’s the colonial powers had shifted their focus from “exploitative colonization” to “exploitive settlement”. Thomas Jefferson writes in secret memos to William Henry Harrison in 1803, a plan to disappear the tribes of the Sout ...more
Emily Goenner
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-harder-2019
How can I not know the things written here? As Anglo-Americans, we've been taught such lies and shaded stories. This book gives a different side, another heart-breaking view of all the evil done by Europeans when they arrived in America. I was fascinated to learn so much and horrified that I didn't know it.

While I would like to hand this book to everyone and say, "read this," it isn't an easy read. More like a history book than a personal narrative (of which I would have liked more), its long a
Matt Fitz
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year I read "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America" by Professor Ibram Kendi, which helped reshape a brain and attitude that had been acculturated to accept a version of race that left out the black voice and story. THIS book does the same thing with respect to Native Americans.

As with Kendi's scholarly look at why we aren't "post-racial" for lack of understanding our historical roots, David Treuer (Ojibwe) has written the "post-mortem" look at our F
Colleen Browne
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This excellent book picks up where "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee" left off. It begins after the Wounded Knee massacre and its point is to document the fact that Native American history did not end at the end of the 19th Century, that it continued, amidst more bad decisions and cultural genocide by the government. Treuer documents how Native Americans have faired over the last century. His book is a statement about not alone have all the real Indians have not died off but are alive and well and ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book if you want to learn about Native Americans and their history since Wounded Knee in 1890. Much of it is first person, when the author speaks with a variety of fellow Native Americans on a variety of subjects. The author also does a great job of laying out the history of Native American tribes after Wounded Knee, including ever-changing government policies, including one called "termination," and how various tribes responded. He is also honest about problems besetting Native ...more
Diane S ☔
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nfr-2020
Thoughts soon.
Loring Wirbel
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Treuer, an Ojibwe from Leech Lake Reservation, says he doesn't want a new history of North American indigenous tribes to follow the trajectory of Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or Peter Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Rather than emphasize tragedy and the repression of Indians through colonial and U.S. history, Treuer wants to focus on the survival and victory of North American tribes, even if victories can seem rather small at times. In any event, Treur's book is le ...more
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With broad strokes, Treuer recounts the history of the native peoples in the portion of North America that would become the contiguous states of the U.S.A. His focus is on how various groups responded to, suffered from, resisted, accommodated and continue to live with their encounter with those who invaded and settled in their land. Woven into this survey are the stories of contemporary individuals who are living this legacy. Although the history was familiar to me, this book filled in many gaps ...more
David Buccola
Dec 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book doesn't deserve to be mentioned with Dee Brown's "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee." I had high hopes for this book. The first half of the book kept those hopes high with tales of indigenous tribes in the South West that outlived the rule of the Spanish and the Catholic Church. But that hope soon began to vanish when Treuer turns his attention to the American Indian Movement (AIM) and its leaders. In contrast to the leadership of AIM and those actually fighting for Native American rights ...more
This seemed like two books combined into one. The first book is a historical overview of the Native American experience from colonization to Standing Rock. The second book is a an account of time that he has spent with other Native Americans--not ones of note, but just regular people struggling to make their lives better. The problem is that these accounts are woven together with the historical overview, and the personal accounts often have little or no bearing on what's happening in the histori ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I share my thoughts, a few caveats: This is my reading experience and reactions to the book. I am not academically qualified to comment on the historical accuracy of the contents. I am also not culturally qualified to comment on how it represents Native experiences and cultures. I picked up this book to (re)educate myself about Native American history and present-day realities, though it has affected me much more profoundly than I anticipated.
There are a few books that have completely re
James Murphy
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always interested in American Indians through my background of anthropology and history, I was drawn to The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by that but also by its claim to be a counter narrative to Dee Brown's famous 1970 work Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee which was considered the Indian side of the history of the west but which I thought too sentimentally told. Treuer's book is more balanced. He sees the sentimentality, too, but he also criticizes Brown for his portrayal of Indian life as ultimately ...more
Robert Sheard
I liked this book quite a bit in parts. Treuer is attempting the redefine the narrative about Indians in the United States. (He uses the term "Indians" throughout the book, so for this review, I will, as well.)

Rather than a narrative of loss and destruction, culminating in the massacre at Wounded Knee, Treuer focuses on Indians's history since that date and how they are rewriting that narrative in society and history.

Where Treuer is at his best is in his interviews with people. But at times he g
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I heard Treuer on a podcast giving an interview about the book and he described it as taking on the myth that Indians have vanished and all are dead. He spoke from the point of view that the narrative is at least apologetic in current media, but it is still slanted towards "all the Indians that are left are drunks on the reservation". And he took issue with that and specified that he wanted to write about "new" (or contemporary) Indian history. Having recently read Takaki's A Different Mirror ...more
Incredibly comprehensive, thought-provoking, clear-headed and engaging. I learned so much about native culture and history, past and present. Expanded my understanding and belief of what our country is considerably. Truly one of the best books I read this year.
Peter Beck
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee" is a path-breaking work on the Native American experience. It is actually much more than the title suggests because the first 100 pages explore Indian life before 1890. It is also far more than just a dry history book. Treuer takes us foraging for pine cones and hunting for clams while interviewing colorful family members and acquaintances.

Countless books have recounted the tragedies experienced by Native Americans at the hands of Europeans and Americans, but few
In his The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, David Treuer artfully combines history, memoir, personal accounts, current affairs, and ethnography. While The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee resists easy summary and slotting into a single genre, it works well as a non-fiction literature. Treuer puts to excellent use his background as an Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota, an anthropologist, and a novelist. While Part 1 — Narrating the Apocalypse: 10,000B ...more
Craig Werner
A huge disappointment to me, and I expect I'll be the outlier in my response. I've liked and learned from Treuer's previous work and I'm sympathetic to his project of rewriting Dee Brown's The Heart of Wounded Knee in a way that puts the center of the story in Native American survival.

Having said hat, the book just flat didn't work for me. Part of it is that, although the subtitle indicates the book will pick up in 1890, roughly when Brown's ends, something close to a quarter of it provides an o
Caidyn (he/him/his)
I was recommended this book as an ownvoices perspective on Native American history from 1890s on. It's a huge rebuttle to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which basically goes through the "destruction" of the Indigenous people. But this book says that that's not true. The Native cultures thrived despite all these things trying to put them down and are still thriving. I follow a few Indigenous reviewers on Instagram and, I can tell you, that it's not dead or dying. It is certainly growing and more ...more
Sam toer
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the 1970 work "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", Dee Brown declared that "the culture and civilization of the American Indian was destroyed". In "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee David Treuer revise that image of the Indian which has long been prevalent in American literature and historiography. The Indians are seen as the "Vanishing American", a race so compromised by disease, war and intermarriage that it is destined to disappear. " David Treuer's book is a moving portrait of “Indian survival, r ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I honestly don't remember any of this from my high school history books.

Incredibly tragic, isn't that?

Liz Mc2
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, nonfiction
I listened to the audiobook, read by actress Tanis Parenteau, who is Métis.

The motto of this book could be “not dead yet.” Treuer writes partly in response to Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which depicts Indians primarily as victims, and as people of the past. Treuer takes Wounded Knee more or less as the starting point of his book, though he does do a broad history of earlier periods, including pre-contact and first-contact periods.

Nor does he deny the wrongs done to Native Americ
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David Treuer is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He divides his time between his home on the Leech Lake Reservation and Minneapolis. He is the author of three novels and a book of criticism. His essays and stories have appeared in Esquire, TriQua ...more

Articles featuring this book

November is National Native American Heritage Month in the United States, and it's the perfect time to read a new book by an Indigenous writer....
169 likes · 25 comments
“Watching him then, I simply couldn’t think of him doing anything other than winning. Loss wasn’t the norm, it couldn’t be. I didn’t have the words for it then, what it felt like to watch my cousin, whom I love and whose worries are our worries and whose pain is our pain, manage to be so good at something, to triumph so completely. More than a painful life, more than a culture or a society with the practice and perfection of violence as a virtue and a necessity, more than a meanness or a willingness to sacrifice oneself, what I felt—what I saw—were Indian men and boys doing precisely what we’ve always been taught not to do. I was seeing them plainly, desperately, expertly wanting to be seen for their talents and their hard work, whether they lost or won. That old feeling familiar to so many Indians—that we can’t change anything; can’t change Columbus or Custer, smallpox or massacres; can’t change the Gatling gun or the legislative act; can’t change the loss of our loved ones or the birth of new troubles; can’t change a thing about the shape and texture of our lives—fell away. I think the same could be said for Sam: he might not have been able to change his sister’s fate or his mother’s or even, for a while, his own. But when he stepped in the cage he was doing battle with a disease. The disease was the feeling of powerlessness that takes hold of even the most powerful Indian men. That disease is more potent than most people imagine: that feeling that we’ve lost, that we’ve always lost, that we’ve already lost—our land, our cultures, our communities, ourselves. This disease is the story told about us and the one we so often tell about ourselves. But it’s one we’ve managed to beat again and again—in our insistence on our own existence and our successful struggles to exist in our homelands on our own terms. For some it meant joining the U.S. Army. For others it meant accepting the responsibility to govern and lead. For others still, it meant stepping into a metal cage to beat or be beaten. For my cousin Sam, for three rounds of five minutes he gets to prove that through hard work and natural ability he can determine the outcome of a finite struggle, under the bright, artificial lights that make the firmament at the Northern Lights Casino on the Leech Lake Reservation.” 4 likes
“If you want to know America—if you want to see it for what it was and what it is—you need to look at Indian history and at the Indian present. If you do, if we all do, we will see that all the issues posed at the founding of the country have persisted. How do the rights of the many relate to the rights of the few? What is or should be the furthest extent of federal power? How has the relationship between the government and the individual evolved? What are the limits of the executive to execute policy, and to what extent does that matter to us as we go about our daily lives? How do we reconcile the stated ideals of America as a country given to violent acts against communities and individuals? To what degree do we privilege enterprise over people? To what extent does the judiciary shape our understanding of our place as citizens in this country? To what extent should it? What are the limits to the state’s power over the people living within its borders? To ignore the history of Indians in America is to miss how power itself works.” 4 likes
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