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

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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 nineteenth century. A national bestseller in hardcover for more than a year after its initial publication, it has sold almost four million copies and has been translated into seventeen languages. For this elegant thirtieth-anniversary edition—published in both hardcover and paperback—Brown has contributed an incisive new preface.

Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated. A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee changed forever our vision of how the West was really won.

509 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 1970

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About the author

Dee Brown

127 books340 followers
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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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,192 reviews
Profile Image for Arukiyomi.
382 reviews73 followers
March 11, 2021
"The "land of the free" is no longer "the home of the brave.""

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."

For more reviews and the 1001 Books Spreadsheet, visit http://arukiyomi.com
Profile Image for Morgan.
195 reviews31 followers
April 26, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Stephanie *Eff your feelings*.
239 reviews1,233 followers
December 4, 2013
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
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
October 3, 2021
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 1973میلادی

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

کتاب تاثیرگذار پیش رو، مجموعه‌ اى از اسناد مستند، واقعیات، و کلام شاهدانى است، که ظلم رفته بر قوم سرخپوست را، به گوش جهانیان مى‌رساند؛ بى‌شک، در زمان انتشار چنین اسناد و واقعیاتى، مى‌بایست جامعه‌ ى بشرى، دچار بهتى چنان بزرگ شده باشند، که گویى از درون زنجیره ی دروغ رسانه‌ ها، به زمین سقوط کرده‌ اند؛ قومى که هیچ تاریخ مستند و مکتوبى نداشتند، به راحتى در چنگال ظلم دشمن اسیر شدند، و این ناآگاهى، از زبان گفتار و نوشتار، از دو جهت، براى آنها زیانبار بود؛ چه آنکه قراردادهایى را امضا مى‌کردند، که از محتوایشان بى‌خبر بودند، و حرف و گفته‌ ى مترجمان دروغین، با آنچه بر کاغذ نگاشته شده بود، یکى نبود؛ از سویى قوم فاتح، تا توانستند از موجودات آرام، بى آزار، و صاحب فرهنگ و عرفان، چهره‌ اى شریر، متخاصم، بدوى، و به دور از فرهنگ ارائه دادند

نخستین بار «کریستف کلمب» بود که با این مردمان ساده و خونگرم بومى، روبرو شد، او در گزارشى که به پادشاه و ملکه «اسپانیا» مى‌نویسد: این مردم بقدرى ملایم و مهربان و سلیم‌ النفسند، که من مى‌توانم به اعلیحضرتین اطمینان بدهم، که در دنیا، ملتى بهتر از ایشان پیدا نمى‌شود؛ همنوعان خود را مانند کسان خود، دوست مى‌دارند؛ گفتارشان همواره شیرین و ملایم، و رفتارشان شایسته، و برازنده است؛ (کتاب فاجعه سرخپوستان آمریکا – صفحه بیست و چهار)

گرچه سرخپوستان، به منزله‌ ى میزبان، از سفیدپوستانى چون «کلمب» و همراهانش، به نیکى پذیرایى کردند، اما همین بهانه‌ اى شد، تا نه تنها مهمانان بیآیند و بیرون نروند، بلکه نمک بخورند، و نمکدان بشکنند! «کلمب» اگرچه، از آن قوم به نیکى یاد مى‌کند، باورمند است که باید «این ملت را به کار واداشت، و به او آموخت، که در زمین کشت کند، و براى آنکه راه و رسم زندگى ما را بیاموزد، هر کارى که لازم است باید کرد.» (کتاب فاجعه سرخپوستان آمریکا – صفحه بیست و چهار)

از آن پس، فوج فوج مهاجر سفید پوست، به سوى «ینگى دنیا» هجوم آوردند، و عرصه را بر مردمان «سرخپوست» تنگ کردند؛ اینان نه تنها زمین بر حق بومیان را، از آنها به بهایى ناچیز ستاندند، بلکه با شروع تب طلا، به کوهستان مقدس این مردمان هجوم بردند، و زمانى که مردمان سرخ به مقاومت پرداختند، زن و مرد و پیر و جوان را، غرق به خون بر زمین افکندند، و توحش را به سرحد ممکن، به منصه‌ ى ظهور رساندند

سرخپوستان، که تا مدتها، با تیر و کمان و نیزه مى‌جنگیدند، هم از نظر ادوات جنگى، و هم از نظر تعداد، در مضیقه بودند؛ هر قرارداد، بخشى از زمینشان را از آن سفیدپوستان مى‌کرد، و «پدرهمه»، رییس جمهور ایالات متحده، بر گردآورى آنها، در تکه زمینى، که قرارگاه مى‌نامیدند، و تقریبا همیشه جزو زمینهاى بایر، و لم یزرع بود، تاکید داشت؛ گرچه بعد از مدتى مقاومت، سرخپوستان حاضر شدند، در آن قرارگاهها زندگى کنند، اما قومى که چنان در پیوند با طبیعت بوده، و ارزاق و پوشاک خود را، از شکار گاو وحشى تامین مى‌کرده، چگونه پس از خلع سلاح شدن و اسارت، مى‌توانست به تامین معاش خود بپردازد؟ سفیدپوستان از آنها به عنوان قومى تنبل، و تن پرور یاد مى‌کردند، که دائما منتظر جیره‌ ى دولتى هستند، و این در حالى است که خود دست و پای آنها را بسته بودند، و در جریان متمدن کردنشان، نه در امور جامعه، شریکشان مى‌کردند، و نه حق اشتغال، شکار، کشاورزى یا دامپرورى به آنها مى‌دادند؛ البته که، هرگاه سلاح در دست سرخپوستان بود، تنها براى امرارمعاش از آن بهره برده‌ اند و در جنگها هرگزی پیشگام نبوده اند. و به‌ راستى که چنین بود

این قوم آرام، مهربان و صاحب تمدن، تا آخرین روزِ پایدارى، طالب صلح بودند، اما کمترین خواسته‌ ى ایشان، حتی جیره‌ اى براى زنده ماندن، و حق زندگى، و نفس کشیدنشان نیز از آنها دریغ شد؛ و هرجا که خواستند از حق خود دفاع کنند، آن حرکت را، به پاى توحش و بربریت گذاشتند، و با مسموم کردن وجهه‌ ى آنها، س��ى در تخریب تاریخ شفاهى، و نامکتوب آنها را داشتند؛ اما حقیقت از پس تاریخ رخ مى‌نمایاند، و آنجا که فاتحان نگارنده‌ ى تاریخ مى‌شوند، قلم از دستشان مى‌رباید، و از ظلمى مى‌گوید، که بر این مردمان رفته است

در فصل نخست، «براون» تاریخچه مختصری از کشف و استقرار در آمریکا، از سال 1492میلادی تا آشفتگی سرخپوستان که از سال 1860میلادی آغاز شد، ارائه میدهند؛ ایشان بر رفتار آرام و صلح آمیز سرخپوستان، نسبت به اروپاییان تأکید میکنند، به ویژه با توجه به عدم مقاومت آشکار آنها، در برابر تلاشهای استعماری نخستین برای اروپایی شدن؛ تا پیش از هجوم بیشتر شهرک نشینان اروپایی، تجاوزهای تدریجی، و سرانجام تصرف سرزمینهای آمریکایی توسط «مرد سفیدپوست» نشان داده شده که مردمان بومی اشکال مقاومت عمده ای را به نمایش میگذارند

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

محمد قاضى نیز، در مقدمه‌ ى مترجم، چنین مى‌نویسند: این کتاب…؛ نخستین داستان فتح مغرب آمریکا از دید یک سرخ‌پوست است؛ در این کتاب تصویر قهرمانى و زیبا و دادگستر نژاد سفید، و تصویر شریر و حیله‌ گر و بیرحم سرخپوست، که چون قلم در کف دشمن بوده، از کودکى به فکر و ذهن ما چنین تلقین شده است، در هم مى‌ریزند، و تصویرهایى واقعى، به ما عرضه مى‌شوند؛ این کتاب از روى اشتباهات غرض آلودى، که در جالب‌ترین و گیراترین افسانه‌ هاى تاریخ غرب امریکا، وجود دارد، پرده بر‌میگیرد؛ افسانه‌ هایى که در این چند دهه‌ ى اخیر الهام بخش ادبیات و سینما بوده است؛ از پس آن همه قصه‌ هاى سفیدپوستان، که در آن به جنایت‌ها، و تبهکاری‌هاى خود، رنگ «پیروزى صنعت و تمدن» داده‌ اند، اینک حقیقت مکشوف و حق به حقدار رسیده است (کتاب فاجعه سرخپوستان آمریکا – صفحه هفت)

این کتاب تیره، این کتاب سیاه، کتابى که در وصف مرد سرخ پوست، در وصف عظمت او و شهامت و علو روح او است، گاهى خوانشگر را از پا در مى‌اندازد؛ آن همه رنج و ذلت، آن همه جرم و جنایت…! آرى اى خوانشگر خسته دل، بدان که این کتاب را نمى‌توان به عنوان کتابى شاد قرائت کرد؛ من کتاب دیگرى نمى‌شناسم، که مرا تا به این حد به مرز ذلت و شقاوت، نزدیک کرده باشد؛ (کتاب فاجعه سرخپوستان آمریکا – صفحه هجده)

نقل از متن: (ما لخت و عور به دنیا آمده و آموخته‌ ایم از گوشت شکار زندگى کنیم؛ شما به ما مى‌گویید که باید کشاورزى بیاموزیم، در خانه‌ اى زندگى کنیم و شیوه‌ ى گذران سفیدپوستان را بپذیریم؛ حال فرض کنیم که کسان دیگرى از آن سوى دریاها آمده و به شما گفته باشند که باید از زراعت زمین دست بردارید و چهارپایان خود را بکشید، و همان کسان بخواهند خانه‌ هاى شما و زمینهاى شما را از دستتان بگیرند؛ در آن صورت شما چه مى‌کنید؟ آیا با ایشان نمى‌جنگید؟

قلب من به من مى‌گوید که خوب است با ابرها و با باد نیز حرف بزنم، لیکن من مى‌خواهم به شما یادآور شوم که زندگى ممکن است شیرین باشد و عشق نیرومند؛ انسان بخاطر نجات جان خود مى‌جنگد، ولى براى برآوردن هوس دل خود آدم مى‌کشد؛ و همین خود عشق است؛ مرگ چیز وحشتناکى است و بزودى ما را غافلگیر خواهد کرد

وقتى به مقابل اردوگاه سرخپوستان رسیدیم، پرچم دولت امریکا را دیدم، که با باد سحرى در اهتزاز بود، و صداى سیه دیگه را شنیدم که سرخپوستان را به تجمع به دور پرچم امریکا فرامى‌خواند…؛ وقتى سربازان آتش به روى ایشان گشودند، سرخپوستان شروع به دویدن به هرسو کردند، و بعضى به طرف کلبه‌ هاى خود گریختند، که شاید به دنبال اسلحه‌ شان مى‌رفتند…؛ گمان مى‌کنم که آن روز جمعا ششصد نفرى بودند؛ از این عده سى و پنج نفرى جوان جنگجو و چندنفرى پیرمرد، و شصت نفرى مرد بودند؛ بقیه به شکار رفته بودند…؛ پس از تیراندازى اول، جنگجویان زنان و کودکان را جمع کردند و خود دور ایشان را گرفتند، تا سپر بلاى ایشان باشند؛ پنج زن را دیدم که به زیر نیمکتى پناه برده و پنهان شده بودند، و وقتى سربازان نزدیک شدند زنها در جلوى پاى ایشان یکدفعه از پناهگاه خود بیرون پریدند، تا نشان بدهند، که در اردو جز زنان ضعیف کسى نیست، و تضرع کنان تقاضاى ترحم کردند، اما سربازان هرپنج تن را به ضرب گلوله از پاى درآوردند؛ زن دیگرى را دیدم که روى نیمکتى دراز کشیده و یک پایش بر اثر اصابت نارنجکى شکسته بود؛ سربازى شمشیرکش به او نزدیک شد؛ زن یک بازویش را براى حفظ جان خود بالا گرفت، ولى سرباز شمشیرش را فرود آورد، و بازوى او را شکست؛ زن به زمین درغلتید، و بازوى دیگرش را بلند کرد؛ سرباز آن بازو را نیز به ضربه‌ ى شمشیر شکست، و بى آنکه جان زن را بگیرد، و راحتش کند، او را به همان حال رها کرد؛ دختربچه‌ ى شش ساله‌ اى را، با یک تکه پارچه‌ ى سفید که به چوبى بسته بود، با پیغام زنهار به نزد سربازان فرستادند، اما دختربچه‌ ى بینوا هنوز چند قدمى پیش نرفته بود، که با گلوله‌ اى از پا درآمد؛ همه‌ ى آن زنان که به آن چاله پناه برده بودند بعد با چهار پنج مردى که مى‌خواستند از ایشان دفاع کنند، کشته شدند؛ بدبختها هیچ مقاومتى از خود نشان ندادند، و پوست سر همه‌ شان را کندند؛ زن آبستنى را دیدم که شکمش را دریده بودند، و بنظرم آمد که بچه‌ اش را لاى روده هایش دیدم؛ جسد سفید غزال را نیز دیدم، که آلت تناسلى او را بریده بودند، و از سربازى شنیدم که مى‌گفت، مى‌خواهد از آن کیسه توتون بسازد؛ زنى را دیدم که آلت تناسلیش را قاچ قاچ بریده بودند…؛ عده‌ ى زیادى از بچه‌ هاى شیرخواره را هم دیدم، که در آغوش مادرشان کشته شده بودند.)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 06/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 10/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,301 reviews22k followers
September 1, 2014
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.

Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,729 followers
August 11, 2018
“I thought God intended us to live,” Standing Bear told Crook, “but I was mistaken. God intends to give the country to the white people, and we are to die. It may be well; it may be well.”
- 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.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,820 reviews12.8k followers
November 16, 2017
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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,029 reviews934 followers
November 14, 2017
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: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

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.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,278 followers
January 11, 2023
This is one of those books whose great merit was in undermining itself. When it was first published, in 1970, it must have been a shock to the Americans who grew up reading and watching movies about the heroic cow boys, settlers, and soldiers who colonized the West. This was—and to an extent, remains—a key part of our national myth. But like so many national myths, it left unnoticed the people who were repressed, marginalized, or exterminated on the road to the country’s greatness. Books like this one, a people’s history, told from the perspective of the vanquished, are a necessary corrective to this, and perform an important moral function in our society: shining a light on the misdeeds perpetrated by our national heroes.

The greatest testament to the success of a book of this type is to render itself obsolete, and I think this is what has happened in this case—at least, to an extent. For by the time I went to school it was the Dee Brown version of the West, not the Buffalo Bill version, that was taught to us. (Admittedly this must vary a lot depending on where you go to school; I come from quite a liberal area.) Thus the story told in these pages was, however depressing, entirely familiar: broken promises, cultural misunderstandings, blatant dishonesty, and wholesale slaughter. As a result I admit I did not enjoy this book as much as I expected, for everything that Brown narrated was fully expected. Of course, there were moments that pierced through even my dullness, such as the description of the Sand Creek Massacre, which was as horrible as anything I have read about the Holocaust.

Brown is a strong writer, and evokes people and scenes with the power of a good novelist. But I was disappointed at how much of this book is given over to descriptions of battles and skirmishes. The pattern was always the same: the Indians are promised land, the whites decide they want the land after all, tension escalates, and then conflict ensues—with the American military usually coming out the victor. I think it was important that Brown narrate this fighting from the other perspective, since it formed such a cherished part of our myth, but apart from sheer drama I did not get much out of it. I would much have preferred that Brown dedicate space to the customs of the groups he is describing—the Navajo, the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Arapaho, and many more. Without this, we get a sense of brave cultures being swept away, but not a sense of what was actually lost.

A few more criticisms come to mind. Though this book is well-researched and well-sourced, it is clear even at a superficial reading that Brown has imaginatively embellished quite a bit in order to get the novelistic style he was after. More importantly, now that we are (hopefully) moving past this Spaghetti-Western version of American history, I believe a different kind of book is needed. Any book that tells the story exclusively from one side, either victor or vanquished, will leave important parts of the story out. Apart from more ethnographic description of the American Indians in question, I would also have liked a much deeper analysis of the government and settlers. This would have given more insight into why these interactions played out the way they did.

But these criticisms are somewhat unfair, since they are predicated on the book’s success. Without a doubt this was a necessary book, and Brown did us a service in writing it—and in writing it so well.
Profile Image for Juliet Rose.
Author 11 books376 followers
August 3, 2022
I lived for about 6 years out in NW Nebraska and was introduced to some of this history for the first time in my life. I, like almost everyone else, had been told the white history of the Native Americans. Living out just a few miles from Ft Robinson I learned a much darker history and first heard about this book. Some years later I remembered the book and began to read it. This book took me 4 months to read because it is so heavy, at times I needed to set it down and deal with the pain my heart. If a white person reads this and does not feel utter shame and heartbreak about what happened to the Native Americans, then they are denying their responsibility in the matter. Regardless if our ancestors where here then, we are here now and owe it to the original inhabitants of this land our regard and reparations.

Dee Brown offers an honest account of Native American history and includes other familiar major events happening in the country at the same time. It makes it clear this was not so long ago and we have yet to own our part of this heinous history. A must read!
Profile Image for Matt.
936 reviews28.6k followers
April 27, 2016
Written in the 1970s, Dee Brown's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee remains a popular, relevant history of the Plains Indians. This is saying a lot. Aside from vague knowledge of Custer, and perhaps a viewing or two of Dances With Wolves, I'd venture that most Americans don't know or care much about this story. That makes sense, since it's never fun to think about the genocide committed by your ancestors.

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is styled as an Indian history of the American west. It's told from the Indian point of view, often in their own words. The book is well-structured and elegantly written. Dee Brown is a great storyteller. He is able to balance the "adventure" - the heat and drama of battle - with the tragedy. The book starts with the "long walk" of the Navaho and moves onto the various other landmarks of the period: Little Crow's uprising in Minnesota, Red Cloud's war along the Bozeman Trail, General Crook's fight against the Apache, Captain Jack and the Modocs, and the last gasp of the Lakota at the Rosebud and Little Big Horn. Brown finishes his book with a powerful description of the Cheyenne breakout from captivity in Fort Robinson, where starving, freezing Indian men, women and children plunged into the snow in a desperate, suicidal bid to get back to their homeland. I rank the last lines of the book among the best endings I've ever read.

Brown's skills as a storyteller, however, stand in contrast to his abilities as a historian.

Crazy Horse and the other decoys now jumped on their ponies and began riding back and forth along the slope of the Lodge Trail Ridge, taunting the soldiers and angering them so that they fired recklessly. Bullets ricocheted off the rocks, and the decoys moved back slowly. When the soldiers slowed their advance or halted, Crazy Horse would dismount and pretend to adjust the bridle or examine his pony's hooves. Bullets whined all around him, and then the soldiers finally moved up on the ridgetop to chase the decoys down toward the Peno Creek. They were the only Indians in sight, only ten of them, and the soldiers were charging their horses to catch them...

This is exciting stuff. Unfortunately, it's credulous history. Brown prefers the legend over the fact. In this passage, for instance, we have Crazy Horse among the decoys leading Captain Fetterman's command into a trap. Actually, though, it wasn't Fetterman, but his impetuous subordinate George Grummond, who chased the decoys. Moreover, there is no evidence that Crazy Horse was one of the decoys. This has just come down to us through repetition. This happens throughout the book, where unsubstantiated stories are repeated as fact (this seems to happen a lot in books on the Indian Wars, owing perhaps to the oral tradition of the Plains Tribes).

At this point, I will make an admission: based on the loose history, I originally gave this book three stars. Then I read some of the negative reviews and realized that I had to separate myself from the ethnocentric xenophobes spouting their garbage about "White" culture.

So, I will instead give four stars, and offer this defense to a couple criticisms. First, that this is a biased book. Indeed! A book subtitled "An Indian History of the American West" has an Indian-centric point of view. What a shock! Some of the reviews I've read seem really upset about this, and complain about the lack of the white point of view.


This should go without saying, but before Dee Brown, every book, essay, short story, novel, novella, film, television show, play, and interpretative dance came from the white point of view. This book is a corrective, and compared to the tide of Anglo-centric views, it is a small corrective indeed. (White guilt, manifested in anger, laces many of the reviews I read).

The second charge against Dee Brown is contextual; that is, he simplifies the story into one of good verses evil: good Indian verses bad white. This is fair, up to a point. The Indians are more sympathetic (maybe because they're getting their asses kicked), while the whites come off fairly poorly. However, the charge many critics make is that the Indians were somehow just as bad as the whites. The argument is premised mostly on the Lakota, and posits that because the Lakota kicked the Crow out of their lands, the Lakota's actions were equivalent to the whites (the implication of this being that the Lakota got what they deserved - which, of course, is not much a philosophical argument).

This is specious, disingenuous, and historically unsupportable. First, the movement of the Lakota onto the plains was part of the domino effect of white encroachment. That is, the Ojibwe moved west with the French fur trade, forced the antecedents of the Lakota out of Minnesota's woodlands, and this eventually culminated with a Siouan split, after which the Lakota wandered onto the Great Plains.

Second, the wars fought by the Lakota (and by all the Plains Tribes against each other) occurred within a specific context. Many of the wars were cyclical, and weren't fought to annihilate the enemy, but for cultural and functional reasons (to get horses, mainly, and as a rite of manhood for the young warriors).

Thirdly, the goals of the inter-tribal wars were far different than that of the white invasion. Even though the Lakota forced the Crow out of their hunting grounds, after being forced out of their own, they never pursued the Crow to their utter destruction. That wasn't their intent. The whites, on the other hand, did intend to destroy the Indians as a people. There is no evidence that the United States Government had an overarching policy of genocide. I actually believe that many in government, including President Grant, wanted to deal humanely with the Indians while robbing them blind.

However, in the course of our tribal dealings, we did commit acts of genocide (as defined by the United Nations Convention). We're not talking only of massacres, of innocents killed and wounded, because this happened on both sides. We're talking about treaties made and unilaterally broken; we're talking about concentration camps; we're talking about uprooting people from their homes and moving them elsewhere; we're talking about taking children from their homes and refusing to let them speak their language; we're talking about crushing a people's culture and lifestyle into ashes and dust. Today, the Pine Ridge Reservation is the worst place I've ever seen, and I've been to the Middle East.

Now, did the Lakota really do all that?

That's where the lame equivalence breaks down completely. It's a facile, historically fraudulent comparison. In response, this book earns an extra star, and hopefully convinces a few people to start exploring our checkered past. Once a person is open to the idea that we weren't entirely in the right, then that person can begin exploring all the moral nuances of the incredible epic that is the American West.
Profile Image for Gaijinmama.
183 reviews74 followers
July 10, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Jay Schutt.
259 reviews89 followers
April 5, 2021
A quote from the Foreword of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"
"...the glorious myth of the 'winning' of the West had a few cracks - and that those whooping natives who stood in the way of Progress might just be human beings."

The whites didn't "win" the American West, the Native American Indians lost it or rather had it taken away from them.
Just prior to reading this book, I read one titled "The Earth is Weeping." That book, which was excellent, by the way, told the story of the Indian Wars from the white man's perspective. "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" is an eye-opening account of the same subject but from the Native American point of view. Many actual personal accounts of events by Native American participants are strewn throughout the book. They tell of the hardship and decimation of the tribes from the Great Plains to the West and Southwest.
The author's writing is superb and there are many pictures of Indian chiefs who were major participants in the Indian Wars, approximately (1850-1890), to help give them life again. The only thing that could make this book even better would be maps to better understand the locations of the tribal lands.
Highly recommended for those interested in American Western expansion history.
Profile Image for Tim.
202 reviews92 followers
September 19, 2016

Usually you can take with a pinch of salt what’s quoted on the back cover of books but in this case when the New York Times says “Impossible to put down” they hit the nail on the head. Quite simply a masterpiece of conscientious research and organisational artistry. Dee Brown provides an immensely sympathetic account of the plight of many Indian tribes as the wheels of progress arrived to wipe out their lifestyle, if not their culture. You could say Brown is too sympathetic but then for a people so cruelly trampled over by the wheels of progress you could also say this is the least they deserve.

I have to confess my sympathies were stronger for the tribes that fought back – especially the Lakota whose culture is perhaps the most compelling of all though every tribe in its way represents an ideal of freedom that tugs at the heartstrings. This is also a book about spiritual leaders – Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Chief Joseph. Eloquent wise men like Martin Luther-King with a vision, not just war-paint and rifles.

Though Brown names and shames many of the villains of the massacres he also gives credit where credit is due and exonerates certain individuals for posterity – “Not all of Anthony’s officers, however, were eager or even willing to join Chivington’s well-planned massacre. Captain Silas Soule, Lieutenant Joseph Cramer, and Lieutenant James Connor protested that an attack on Black Kettle’s peaceful camp would violate the pledge of safety given the Indians by both Wynkoop and Anthony, “that it would be murder in every sense of the word,” and any officer participating would dishonor the uniform of the Army.”
In short, this is a book you feel ought to be taught in schools because it makes such a strong and moving case for the paramount importance of respecting foreign cultures. Though it’s true these cultures could never have survived industrialisation in their traditional form this book highlights the cruelty that ensues when personal and corporate gain prevails over the spirit of community. As such it can almost be read as a grotesque metaphor for much that has happened in the world since.

“The whites are as numerous as the leaves on the trees. We know that. But what do we want to live for? The white man has taken our country, killed all our game. Was not satisfied with that but has killed our wives and children. Now, no peace. We want to go and meet our families in the spirit land. We have raised the battle axe until death. Call back your young men from our hills. They have run all over our country. They have destroyed the growing wood and the green grass. They have set fire to our lands. They have killed the elk, the buffalo, the deer. They do not kill them to eat them. They leave them to rot where they fall. If I went into your country and killed your animals and your wives and children what would you say? Should I not be wrong? And would you not make war on me? I speak straight and do not wish to deceive or be deceived. I will keep my word until the stones melt. The coyotes stalk to rob and kill. I cannot see them. I am not the Great Spirit. We were born like the animals, in the dry grass. You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight straight to our hearts. Tell me, if the Virgin Mary has walked through this land why has she never entered the lodges of the Lakota? Why have we never seen or heard her? I do not want to go to the land where she walks. The flies in those parts eat out the eyes of horses. The bad spirits live there. I have drunk of those waters and they are bad. I do not want to leave here. Here my ancestors are buried. Life is sweet, love is strong. Our days are not many. The white man too shall pass. When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild ponies all tamed, the secret corners of the forest contaminated with the odours of the white man. The end of living and the beginning of survival. We might understand if we knew what it is the white man dreams, what hopes he describes to his children, what visions he burns into their minds so they will wish for tomorrow. The white man’s dreams are hidden from us. You say you want to put us on a reservation, to build us tepees of wood and glass. I do not want them. I was born at the foot of the Black Hills.”

Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,931 reviews439 followers
August 19, 2018
It is very possible you learned in school about the depravities of the Nazis towards the Jews, homosexuals, Russian and Polish prisoners, intellectuals and the mentally disabled before and during World War II. Perhaps you believe the Nazis invented the arts of genocide. We all know, too, that ultimately the Nazis failed, as there are still Jews, Russians and Poles.

Missing or elided over in many of our history textbooks and education, there actually was an American genocide which occurred before the Nazi one, and it can actually be thought as having succeeded, in my humble opinion.

At present, 2017, Native-Americans are 1% of the total population of the United States.

The book, 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' tells the story of the genocide White Americans committed against Native-Americans. Native-Americans tried very hard to stop the theft of their lands and the murders of their women and children, but they lost in spite of trying to use the White race's legal mechanisms of Congress and the courts. Actual witness statements from soldiers, politicians, reporters, missionaries, settlers, historians, artists, photographers, and surviving Native-Americans from 1860-1890 were collected by author Dee Brown. He arranged the parts of the memoirs, articles, interviews, statements and reports relating to the various final skirmishes and battles into a chronological history telling the story of how America tricked, lied, and killed in cold blood entire villages of unarmed non-combatants who had been assured they would be safe due to treaties and official surrenders.

Natives sometimes were told if they surrendered peaceably and reported to illegally-built forts on their own land, or to soldiers, they would be ok. Instead soldiers often fired on the unarmed Natives, which included women, children and the old and sick. My edition of Brown's book has actual photos of trenches filled with the bodies of women and children, as well as the bodies of the Native men who had tried to save their wives and children and elders. Clothes and goods were stripped from the bodies and villages in some cases, much like the goods collected by the Nazis, admittedly more systematically by the Nazis.

The Native-Americans sent their leaders to at least three American Presidents at the White House asking for relief of the undeclared war against them. They signed cease-fire treaties with promises of reparations, payment for the lands already robbed from them and punishment for the guilty. They were promised again and again no more Whites would come into their territories. In return, Native-Americans promised to lay down their weapons. Instead, they discovered wagon trains as long as 80 wagons crossing their land without permission or payment, surveyors and workers laying down train tracks, their homes and villages burned down with women and children inside of teepees, and found all of the game rotting in piles of meat or disappeared.

Most Native-Americans could not speak or read English, and had to rely on translators. They signed treaties without knowing what was written on them. They often signed away or 'sold' their lands 'legally'. Then the soldiers often came and murdered them in their homes. When the Native-Americans picked up their bows and arrows and the few old guns they had to fight back, they were slaughtered for 'breaking the treaties'.

In other books I have read, White settlers believed Natives were 'begging' when they asked for food or metal items or weapons when they crossed Native-American land, since the settlers did not know what was in the treaties Washington D.C. politicians had told Native-American people about being paid for accepting the passage of Whites through their lands. Settlers did not know Native-Americans believed the land was theirs since they had lived there for centuries. Missionaries who taught Native-Americans about Christianity unknowingly set up 'their' Native-Americans for slaughter. Christian Native-Americans were often murdered by White settlers scared out of their minds when Natives came up to them expecting the gentle acceptance and equal treatment of fellow Christians, as they were taught by missionaries about Jesus in the New Testament.

Those Native-Americans who survived the planned, if sporadic, genocidal slaughter, were moved by armed soldiers to 'better' homes - reservations that had a scorching hot climate or freezing winters, without potable water or any animals to hunt or land where they could plant food crops. They were assigned White reservation minders from the Bureau of Indian Affairs who embezzled the money sent for their maintenance on which they were dependent, since Native-Americans on many reservations had no resources with which to feed and clothe themselves. If Indians tried to 'escape' the reservations, they were punished (flogged), returned in chains or killed. Many sickened, many more died. Does this sound like the Nazi death camps? It isn't a coincidence.

I read in a book that the Nazis studied the American genocide of the Native-Americans for methods of mass murder which they could use. They had no doubts the Americans committed genocide against the Native-Americans. They also picked up affirmation of their ideas of White Supremacy from published stories and articles from American scientists and academic circles.

From Wikipedia:

"The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs."


Whites have believed for a long time they are the only humans worthy of being called human beings and that they are superior to all other life forms on earth.

From Wikipedia on scientific racism:

"Meanwhile, Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), the Swedish physician, botanist, and zoologist, modified the established taxonomic bases of binomial nomenclature for fauna and flora, and was a pioneer researcher in biologically defining human race. In Systema Naturae (1767), he labeled five "varieties"of human species. Each one was described as possessing the following physiognomic characteristics "varying by culture and place":
▪ The Americanus: red, choleraic, righteous; black, straight, thick hair; stubborn, zealous, free; painting himself with red lines, and regulated by custom

"Kant (1724-1804) stated: "The yellow Indians do have a meagre talent. The Negroes are far below them, and at the lowest point are a part of the American people.""


My edition had illustrations and drawings from Native-American and White artists alive at the time, photographs of the meetings between Native-Americans and American politicians and military officers, and of the massacres, and copies of maps showing the distribution of the various tribes. There is a Notes section, a Bibliography and an Index, as well as a list of contributors and picture credits. A short biography of the author is also included. Dee Brown was a librarian. I officially love him.
Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
479 reviews190 followers
April 12, 2023
Amazing book that tells the horrors suffered by the Native Americans at the hands of the white man.

It's shocking how these indigenous people were trusted, and reading this book was not easy at times, but I think everyone should read it.
Profile Image for B the BookAddict.
300 reviews667 followers
August 29, 2015

I first read this at Uni a long time ago; a factual and disturbing book, it pierced my conscience. I decided to read it again to see if my reaction to it had changed over the years. This book broke my heart back then and it has just broken my heart again. There were many times when I just put it aside and cried. The awfulness is that this is a true account of the methodical annihilation of the American Indian. Throw away your ideas gleaned from 'cowboys and indian' movies. This is an account of a government intent of eradicating the American Indian.

You'll learn how the Indians peaceably handed over tracts of land as requested in the beginning, how the white man came back for more and more and more. Inevitably, the Indians were forced into a position where they had to stand up for what was left; the government's retaliation was to systemically order their slaughter. You'll learn how many practices attributed to the Indians were first carried out by the white soldiers; ie scalping and other gruesome 'trophies'. How the Indians were a people just like the white man: they had families, communities, leaders, even pets; they lived peaceful lives.

This is a book which will shock you, sadden you but mostly, make you re-assess certain attitudes to a people who are still fighting for their heritage. It features on Books Everyone Should Read Once lists and rightly so. I think this is a 'must read' for all of us.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books598 followers
August 18, 2018
This 1979 edition isn't the one I originally read in the early 70s, but it's the one I currently own, and referred to for this review. I read the book relatively soon after it was published, having heard of it and wanting (typically, given my fascination with the study of the past) to know and understand the history involved. But my interest in the broad subject was already shaped by reading about Indians as a child, and by sympathizing with them as mistreated underdogs in the Western movies and books I'd seen and read (which wasn't the reaction the filmmakers and writers were usually going for!).

Like all nation-states, and all significant enterprises in human history, the American experiment in democratic, propositional nation-building has always been composed of flawed human beings, some more deeply flawed than others (and some horribly so), but none of them perfect. (From a Christian standpoint that takes the idea of the Fall of mankind seriously, that isn't a surprising revelation.) It embodied, from the beginning, both very noble ideals and goals and very ignoble and destructive popular prejudices and self-serving desires, which have been millstones around our collective neck for all of our history. The two heaviest and most significant millstones both are aspects of one common flaw, the failure of the majority of white Americans to truly identify with people of other races as fellow humans with the same worth and rights as themselves, most glaringly evidenced in the attitudes toward and treatment of black Americans, originally forcibly brought here as slaves to serve the white community, and Native Americans (American Indians), who were already here when the whites arrived, and were forcibly dispossessed of the land which they were at first prepared to share. (Although it rests on a misconception --Columbus' false belief, in 1492 and subsequently, that he had arrived in Asia-- the term "Indians" is not in any sense a slur, and certainly isn't intended as such by the author or by this reviewer.) In this book, of course, we focus on this second historical millstone.

This is not, to be sure, a comprehensive study of Indian-white relations throughout American history (though the first chapter sketches the earlier history by way of background). Instead, it concentrates on just one key part of it, the dispossession of the tribes living in roughly the western half of the continental U.S., from the Great Plains westward to the Pacific. But it perfectly illustrates in microcosm the same broad pattern of white aggression, duplicity, self-serving injustice and disregard for claims of humanity and morality which have characterized most interactions of the two races before and since as well. This is "popular" history --that is, written for interested readers outside of academia; but it is serious, soundly-researched narrative history, based almost entirely on primary sources (and to a large extent on previously often-neglected Indian primary sources, of which, as Brown notes in the Introduction, there exists a surprisingly extensive corpus). His bibliography fills nine pages; the book is also indexed, and footnotes are used to identify sources of the information set out in the 418 pages of actual text. (This edition, at least, also has a number of black-and-white photographs, grouped together in the center.) It is, in fact, a landmark in American historiography, even though the author had no graduate degree in history. (He was an academic librarian, novelist, and writer of several books on American history.)

Chronologically, the main narrative starts with the forcing of the Apache and Navaho tribes onto reservations in 1860-61, and ends with the massacre by the U.S. cavalry of nearly 300 Sioux at Wounded Knee in 1890. Along the way, it describes Little Crow's War in western Minnesota in the early 1860s; the genocidal attacks on Black Kettle's peaceful Cheyenne villagers and the grisly massacres that resulted; Red Cloud's war in the Dakotas which actually resulted in one of the few Indian victories here, though the effects weren't as sweeping as fair-minded observers might have wished; the ultimately unsuccessful efforts of Col. Ely Parker, the Mohawk who served for a time in the Grant administration as the first Indian Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to promote fair dealing between the two races; the near-annihilation of the buffalo on which the Plains Indians depended; the guerilla wars of Cochise and Geronimo; Custer's campaign on the Little Big Horn; the desperate flight of Chief Joseph's persecuted Nez Perce people in an attempt to reach safety in Canada; and much, much more. This is not a pleasant narrative; it's one that's profoundly tragic, gory and ugly. It's also a balanced narrative; Brown doesn't ignore the fact that Indian warriors sometimes killed noncombatants (though leaders like Little Crow sought to avert and discourage that) and soldiers trying to surrender, or violated flags of truce. But the overwhelming burden of moral atrocity falls on the shoulders of the great majority of white military and civil policy-making officials, and the majority of the white community which willingly put them in power, kept them there, and benefited from the atrocities --whites who professed to be moral and civilized, but whose posture towards the original occupiers of the land was almost unremittingly aggressive and treacherous. (My only minor quibble with Brown is over his assertion that the Ghost Dance movement was Christian; I would say it's more accurately characterized as Christian-influenced, not Christian.)

The contention is sometimes met with, on Goodreads as well as elsewhere, that it's an act of "presumption" for white readers such as myself to review accounts of the historical experiences of non-white communities; we may read them, in that view, but our reflections about them are too flawed by our racial identity to deserve to be aired. By reviewing this book, I indicate my own stance on that subject; IMO. people of all races should share their historical and current experiences with each other as widely as possible, and likewise share their reactions and dialogue together, in the belief that the commonalities that unite us as human beings are ultimately more significant, for our relations with each other, than the various experiences and particularities that divide us --that inclusion and acceptance, within a reality of pluralism, is a more promising future for us than cultural apartheid. Without belaboring the point, it's worth mentioning in that context that this entire book is the reflection of a white author about Indian history. Dorris Alexander ("Dee") Brown was a white boy who benefited, as a child, from significant and eye-opening friendships with Native Americans. The worth of his reflections, from that beginning, speaks for itself.

For a long time, I gave this book a three-star rating --the default rating I slapped on most of the nonfiction books I'd read pre-Goodreads, at the time I listed them on my shelves here. However, I changed the rating, on reflection, to better reflect reality. This is not a book you "like," or "really like," unless you're a masochist. It's not a feel-good read; it will make you feel sad, disgusted, and really, really angry. But it is an amazing book, in terms of the quality of the scholarship and the caring concern that Brown put into the telling of this true story, and of the degree of moral impact that it can have on those of us who read it.
Profile Image for Tom.
508 reviews15 followers
February 9, 2021
An important book, but depressing... and hard to read for that reason. A sad summary of the injustices done to the original occupants of this country. Unfortunately, they were a perceived barrier in the mad land grab that took place in the mid to late 1800s.

It's hard to comprehend the degree of evil done to them. So just imagine this from a modern day context.


- One day, you're sitting around, watching Oprah or whatever. Suddenly, there's a knock on your door. You answer and there are a bunch of gun-toting immigrants, saying they want to be your new friends. They've just moved in down the street. You say, "Great! See you around! Here, take some food with you! Welcome to the neighborhood!"

- The next day... They noticed you have some apple trees. They like apples. Could they please have some? You say, "Sure! We're friends and neighbors, right?"

- The next day... Their kids REALLY liked the apples, so they are just going to have to take ownership of the trees (waving their guns). They tell you that you don't really know how to take care of the trees anyway. They say they can do better & everybody will be happier, right?

- The next day... They want to use the rest of your yard to plant more trees. Sorry about the kids swing set and your garden, those things will have to go. Say say, "Could you start clearing your yard off? Like, right now?" (pointing guns).

- The next day... They saw you taking an apple from one of "their" trees. They wonder why you can't understand that those trees aren't really YOURS anymore. If they see you taking apples again, there is going to be trouble!

- The next day... you're ready. You're pissed off. You've got your own gun. When they come, you tell them those apple trees are on YOUR property. You've been neighborly long enough. You tell them to get lost.

- The next day... They bring along local cops. The cops tell you that you've never had any rights to those trees and these new immigrants need them. They warn you that you better not be a "trouble maker." Some of the cops are the same guys with guns who came to your house the first time.

- The next day... The cops/immigrants bust down your front door. They gather your whole family and tell you, for everybody's safety, you just have to move to a new place a couple hundred miles away. They are taking your house & your cars. You can take a blanket and whatever food you can carry. They shoot your pets and set fire to the rest of your stuff in the middle of the yard. They tell you better start walking. Your new home is a loooong way off.

- As you trudge away, you see that this is happening at all of the houses in your neighborhood. You watch as one of your friends throws a punch at the cops. In a rage, they murder him and his entire family, calling him a "savage." They joke to each other and high-five after the deed is done.

- When you finally arrive at your new "home" after weeks of walking, there aren't any jobs and there isn't any food. You rely on the same immigrants that did you such injustice to feed & clothe your family. As they toss you scraps that barely keep you alive. They say, "You should be thankful! We're taking care of you out of the goodness of our hearts!"

"And by the way, all that complaining about where you used to live? That's in the past! Why can't you just get over it already?"


That scenario is played out in each chapter of the book, a different tribe as victim, recurring white generals/politicians/soldiers/settlers as villains. These are stories that are never mentioned in "traditional" American history, which is, in itself an immense injustice.
Profile Image for Kevin.
523 reviews108 followers
December 28, 2022
Oh, the tenet of Manifest Destiny…

“…coined in 1845; the idea that the United States is destined — by God — to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent.” ~history.com

If God is for us, who can be against us? ~Romans 8:31

“The bucks, squaws and paposes were shot down like sheep and those men never stopped as long as they could find one alive.” ~Thomas E. Breckenridge, Sacramento River Massacre, 1846

“The village was attacked before daybreak when everybody was still asleep. Neither old nor young was spared, and the [Sacramento] river was colored red by the blood of the innocent Indians.” ~Theodor Cordua, Sutter Massacre, 1847

“…[one Indian man] began to run, he nearly succeeded in getting away, but finally fell from a shot which unjointed his neck. He fell with 18 ball holes, mostly through his body, and when he fell he was running. I believe none got away.” ~Hosea Stout, Battle Creek Massacre, 1849

“Armed parties went into the rancherias in open day, when no evil was apprehended, and shot the Indians down — weak, harmless, and defenseless as they were — without distinction of age or sex; shot down women with sucking babes at their breasts; they killed or crippled the naked children that were running about." ~J. Ross Browne, Round Valley Massacre, 1856

“Blood stood in pools on all sides; the walls of the huts were stained and the grass colored red. Lying around were dead bodies of both sexes and all ages from the old man to the infant at the breast. Some had their heads split in twain by axes, others beaten into jelly with clubs, others pierced or cut to pieces with bowie knives.” ~Arcata newspaper report, Indian Island Massacre, 1860

“There was one little child, probably three years old, just big enough to walk through the sand. The Indians had gone ahead, and this little child was behind, following after them. The little fellow was perfectly naked, travelling in the sand. I saw one man get off his horse at a distance of about seventy-five yards and draw up his rifle and fire. He missed the child. Another man came up and said, 'let me try the son of a b-. I can hit him.' He got down off his horse, kneeled down, and fired at the little child, but he missed him. A third man came up, and made a similar remark, and fired, and the little fellow dropped.” ~Major Anthony, Sand Creek Massacre, 1864

This nation has never been able to reconcile its self-declarations of greatness and exceptionalism with the irrefutable fact that it was built on the twin pillars of slavery and genocide.

Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is an accounting of an indigenous holocaust. It is a tally of broken treaty after broken treaty after broken treaty, and a serious disquisition on a bloody and sanctimonious American apartheid. A must-read.
Profile Image for Mohammed.
447 reviews581 followers
April 22, 2021
رحم الله أيام الثور الجالس والجواد الجامح والغيمة الحمراء... ليست هذه بكائنات خرافية بل زعماء من رموز المقاومة لدى الهنود الحمر. فاﻷسماء لدى سكان أمريكا اﻷصليين تَُكتسب وفقاً لعادات الشخص، هواياته وانجازاته، على غرار المدعو "يلعب طوال الوقت". فلو كنت أنا من الهنود الحمر لكان اسمي "يتحدث كثيرا" أو "الجالس لوحده".

يتحدث كتاب "ادفن قلبي عند ووندد ني (الركبة الجريحة حرفياً، وهو اسم أحد الأودية)" عن فصل آخر من رحلة الرجل الأبيض لتخليص شعوب اﻷرض من ممتلكاتهم ثم التفضل عليهم بالفتات. يبدأ بالمسح على الرؤوس مع عبارات مثل "يا للمساكين!" عن طريق المبشرين والمستكشفين، فيسلبهم ثرواتهم (اﻷراضي الشاسعة) بالمكائد والخداع، ثم يسلط عليهم إعلامه ونظامه التعليمي ليجعلهم يخجلون من أصلهم وثقافتهم (اﻷسماء الهندية، الظفائر وريشة المحارب). بعد ذلك يضرب بيد من حديد ليخبرهم من هو الزعيم فيرتكب مجزرة تبقى نقطة سوداء في التاريخ (مجزرة ووندد ني).

هذا الكتاب هو كتاب واقعي، مبني على شهادات شخصية وسير ذاتية لشخصيات عاصرت تك الحقبة، يحكي قصة نادرة عن اندثار ثقافة عريقة في وقت وجيز بالنسبة لعمر اﻷمم. يعج الكتاب بالمواقف الممضة والشخصيات المؤثرة. عندك مثلا سيتينج بول (الثور الجالس) الذي قاوم حتى أضحى وحيدا وقد نأى عنه قومه بعد مبيتهم في العراء نهبة للجوع والقر. اضطر لإحناء هامته فعاش في المحميات، ومارس بعض الأكاذيب. غرته أضواء الشهرة فتحول من قائد مقاومة إلى نجم كاميرات، يقضي وقته بالتقاط الصور التذكارية مع المعجبين. هناك أيضا تشارلز إيستمن، صبي هندي محارب اضطر تحت ضغط ابيه الذي اعتنق المسيحية للإنخراط بالمجتمع الأوروبي وتأثر بتعليمه حتى غدا جزءا منه. لاحقاً يتعرض تشارلز لصدمة ما إن يتكشف الوجه البشع للمستوطنين اﻷوروبيين الذين لا يتوانون عن ارتكاب التشريد وال��تل الجماعي والنهب المنظم. يسعى تشارلز فيما بعد للمطالبة بحقوق السكان الأصليين عن طريق النضال المدني.

هناك الكثير ليقال عن هكذا كتاب وهكذا تاريخ. أجد نفسي مفتونا بتاريخ وحضارة القبائل الأمريكية اﻷصلية التي عاشت هناك في السهوب الخضراء المعشوشبة مد البصر، لا يعترفون بالملكية الفردية، يطاردون الفرائس ويقتسمون الصيد، يدخنون التبغ في الإجتماعات الجادة، و يعزفون الناي في اﻷمسيات الهادئة، و يجتمعون حول النار ليلا ليحكوا قصصا عن الحيوانات والأرواح الهائمة.
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews967 followers
September 20, 2017
I was surprised by this book. It has a quality of immediacy that I did not expect, and that makes it read more like a novel than any kind of history. If Brown has smoothed out the narration of the evidence with poetic license and surmise, then I commend that work highly, because it makes that evidence, which, I think, needs to be read and taught and known, highly accessible.

The book is structured quite naturally into chapters organised to facilitate reading, retelling and discussing a particular sequence of events relating to a particular culture or nation, and each chapter is prefaced with a (apparently arbitrarily selected) list of dated contemporary events such as the publication of books, the election of leaders and the passing of laws which are well known in Euro/USian Anglophone histories and/or popular culture, presumably to give readers a sense of when all this happened in terms of familiar reference points.

The impression left by this citation, along with the insistent presence of the people and events in the text is that this happened recently; it can't be consigned to the oubliette of a fabulously distant past when horrible people did horrible things that have nothing to do with us. Train seat neighbours sometimes commented on my reading; one said "that book must be sad... it was a massacre wasn't it?" I said "it's an ongoing genocide", but perhaps I should have emphasised how skilfully and how courageously and how creatively the "Indians" fought and have continued to fight for what matters to them. Lest we forget, the native has not tragically vanished, and despite the thousands slaughtered, none of this is over.

What Brown details is the erosion of freedom and rights of the First Nation people who kept the first white settlers alive, taught them to grown corn and other crops, humoured their childish wishes to sign papers relating to the land, and later tried hard to keep their promises, fought hard when they were attacked, negotiated hard and wisely with the knowledge of past mistakes (such as trusting faithless whites) but were betrayed and coerced to cede land rights, to move into unsuitable reservations where their activities were restricted, again and again, not to mention murdered, raped and murdered if they were women, or kidnapped if they were children. The law (white law that they had had no part in making) was used against them and never worked on their behalf even when it seemed to provide rights and defences for them.

Despite the repeated patterns of disenfranchisement, betrayal, displacement, slaughter etc, the book doesn't feel repetitive, and while it's sad and angering to read, it's also full of accounts that are immensely impressive, since the "Indians" were generally highly superior in fighting and evasive skills compared to the USian armies, and frequently won battles, successfully defended their non-combatants (which marching armies didn't have to worry about) and avoided capture against what seem like ridiculous odds. Additionally, various key figures among the "Indians" stand out as wise, heroic, charismatic or otherwise attractive, and their short-term victories provide some relief from the overall negative direction of the stories. Where the narration reveals the cultural practices of a people, I also found much food for thought...
with about three thousand Sioux and Arapahos, the Cheyennes moved northward, exiled into a land that few of them had seen before. Along the way they had fights with soldiers who marched out from fort Laramie, but the alliance was too strong for the soldiers, and the Indians [sic] brushed them off as though they were coyotes snapping at a mighty buffalo herd.

When they reached the Powder River country, the Southern Cheyenne were welcomed by their kinsmen [sic], the Northern Cheyenne. The Southerners, who wore cloth blankets and leggings, traded from white men, thought the Northerners looked very wild in their buffalo robes and buckskin leggings. The Northern Cheyennes wrapped their braided hair with strips of red-painted buckskin, wore crow feathers on their heads, and used so many Sioux words that the Southern Cheyennes had difficulty understanding them. Morning Star, a leading chief of the Northern Cheyennes, had lived and hunted so long with the Sioux that almost everyone called him by his Sioux name, Dull Knife.

At first the Southerners camped on the Powder about half a mile apart from the Northerners, but there was so much visiting back and forth that they soon decided to camp together, pitching their tepees in an old-time tribal circle with clans grouped together. From that time on, there was little talk of Southerners and Northerners among these Cheyennes.
I cannot imagine two communities joining together in friendship that increases over time in my culture. It's not only to find out what's wrong with us, what we've done, that I read books like this, not only to try to create (by being the change) a culture of remembrance that learns from its bad past, but also to figure out what should be done and learn ways of living and being which may have been destroyed or driven out of sight of or protectively hidden from the white gaze, to know that it doesn't have to be like this. To know the past is re-membering (putting back together, opposite of dismembering) to use in (re)making...
"The Cheyennes do not break their word," One-Eye replied. "If they should do so, I would not care to live longer."
The majority of the USian powerful had racist attitudes, believing in "manifest destiny", and simply wanted to wipe out the original population of the land. They expressed violent intentions and carried them out. Sometimes in these stories, white men with some power behave sanely or ethically, attempting to honour some treaty or informal promise or convention of engagement, or else they become sympathetic towards "Indians" in general or some in particular, and try to help them. Quite often the actions of these individuals backfire, causing the people they wanted to protect being put in more vulnerable positions, leading to their slaughter or capture. This shows how difficult it was to intervene in the overall trend. Politicians and treaty makers wheedled and tricked the land and rights away on a road paved with all kinds of intentions, but the logic of white supremacist capitalist settler colonialism was relentless.
I have heard talk and talk, but nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country, now overrun by white men... Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I think of all the good words and broken promises... You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.
- Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces
Profile Image for Andrew.
96 reviews10 followers
October 22, 2011
NOTE: I in no way mean to denigrate the opinions and/or feelings of people who gave this book 4 or 5 stars. I make no assumptions as to why people have given this book such a high rating, though I do suggest one possibility could be to acknowledge the book's undeniable importance in presenting the Native American side of the story against the then-prevailing "victor's narrative."

I only read the two chapters concerning the fate of the Apache in general, and Cochise and Geronimo in particular, as background reading for a class I am teaching. Certainly, the subject of the book is disturbing and compelling, as is Brown's decision to tell the story of the genocide from the victim's POV.

In light of the favorable and emotional reviews on this website, I will spend more time with the entire book at a later date. However, based solely on what I have read so far, I am hard pressed to see much justification for the exceedingly strong reviews (other than the wish to demonstrate sympathy for the subject matter). To be sure, there are some powerful quotes attributed to Cochise, Geronimo, and other members of the Apache tribe, and Brown provides a decent outline of the significant events in the war against the Apache, but on the whole I was not impressed by the author's prose, or by his ability to spin a coherent and compelling narrative. The most glaring failure, in my mind, was Brown's failure to delve deeply into the personality of any of the individuals, American or Apache. Cochise, Geronimo and their antagonists seemed like wooden figurines pushed inevitably about the southwest scenery.
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books1,043 followers
January 29, 2020
This is a dense, depressing, informative read. Dee Brown talks about the myriad ways white folks screwed over indigenous folks by endless coming up with treaties and then breaking them. Many of the .tribes he mentions I’d never even heard of, and it turns out the reason for that is that white people murdered entire tribes of people right out of existence. White folks kept pushing indigenous people west, which we should all remember from reading about the trail of tears back in high school, but then white people realized that there was gold in the west, and therefore had to figure out new ways to give Indians the worst possible land, making it impossible to grow or hunt food, thus making them be reliant on the white government to send food. If you’ve read anything about Indians on reservations, you will have heard about the canned meat filled with maggots and other foods that are inedible for various reasons.

I did learn more about Wounded Knee. I thought only males were killed and I also thought the deaf Indian who didn’t give up his gun was old. According to this book, he was a young man and troubled, but the genocide and broken promises and endless lies had been happening for so many years, it was yet one more way white people behaved horribly toward indigenous folks. I keep hoping the time of screwing over Indians is over. They now make up only three percent of the population of the United States. But we white folks keep doing it even today trying to put oil pipelines under their lands and declaring areas they consider sacred to no longer be sacred if there is something we can extract for any value whatsoever. Naturally, the same folks who are treating their sacred mountains and areas this way are the same folks who scream about their freedom of religion so they can also control and belittle women and members of the LBGTQ community.

Virtually everything I know about indigenous Americans comes from books like this one, or a fiction class of Indian writers I had back in college, or Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. This is another book to help fill in the things I never learned in history class.
Profile Image for Candace.
895 reviews
November 17, 2017
What stood out for me in this book? First, so many promises made. So many promises broken. The hunger of white settlers and greedy men interested in the Indians' lands, and later, their reservation lands. It saddens the heart to read all that was done, the lies spoken, and the killing committed to obtain these lands.

Second,the destruction of the buffalo. Their carcases left to rot on the open plains angers the soul at the waste. All committed to (1) furnish the commercial markets and (2) destroy the Indians' way of life. Thank goodness someone had the foresight to save some herds.

I liked how Mr. Brown provided timelines and original, Native American speeches. It put the heavy, researched chapters in perspective. This would be my third point of what stands out in this book for me.

Fourth and final point is the fear on both sides. The soldiers' fears of uprisings and the power of Native American leaders. The Native Americans' fears of imprisonment, and loss of their way of life and land. Fear make men react in dangerous ways, but in this instances, loss of life and retaliation for wrongs done on both sides.

Dee Brown has written a well, researched account of the Western Native Americans. One of promises, lies, death, and hopelessness. The great wrong committed against Native Americans is one as grieves as the sins against the Black Americans.

History has its travails. It is covered in blood. It is also covered in knowledge and glory. Where there is human kind, each side of history suffers and succeeds. This book is both tragic and brave. Tragic because of the Native Americans suffering. Brave because of the many, many times Native Americans endured and hoped for the same or a better way of life.
Profile Image for booklady.
2,325 reviews65 followers
January 6, 2010
I got this book on our first trip around what I call the 'Great Sioux West'. When my dh retired from the AF we took a version of the trip I always dreamed of taking to see a good portion of our American West. We drove through parts of KS, NE, WY, MT, UT, and then back home. We visited mostly historic forts and National Parks. We stopped at endless historical markers and for countless deer, bison, and other wildlife. And all the while I read this incredible book. Although it covers Native American tribes outside these areas, it focuses on many of the events that occurred within these areas at Ft. Laramie, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Ft. Bent, Little Big Horn and other places we were able to see. If you read no other book on our American Indians, read this book. I have read it two more times since. It's THE best! Oh! There's a mini-series which has the same name as this book (made and/or shown on HBO and recently released on DVD. It is TERRIBLE!!! We tried to watch it once and it was so fake, distorted and untrue, we finally got mad and turned it off.

Booklady motto: Never judge a book by its movie!
Profile Image for Lewis Weinstein.
Author 10 books511 followers
December 26, 2011
This is the kind of book you never forget. Every time I think of what the Nazis did, or some other of the many genecides the world has seen, I remember what we did to the native Americans who were living their lives in the way of ours, and I am a little less self-righteous in my criticism of others. Apparently, we are all capable of doing horrible things.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
August 23, 2013
Audiobook was available at Downpour for only USD5.95. Excellent narration by Grover Gardner.

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.
Profile Image for Amanda NEVER MANDY.
466 reviews99 followers
February 28, 2017
I will keep it simple since I can’t seem to come up with anything to say, or more accurately, find the right word combo to say it with.

This book incites a powerhouse of emotions: anger, remorse, loss, outrage, sadness, disgust…

Notice how I left off the and? That’s because there are so many more words you can add to that list, which is why I have struggled with how to say what needs said. I had to put this book down so many times to allow my mind time to process the horror I felt after reading each downward spiral into hell. It had the feel of a horror story when you can see something bad on the other side of the door but the character can’t, “Don’t trust them!! Go back!! Run!!” But unlike a horror story, all of this was real.

Huge thanks to the author for bringing the other side of the story to light no matter how much it hurt to learn about it.
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