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

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  69,941 ratings  ·  3,843 reviews
The American West, 1860-1890: years of broken promises, disillusionment, war and massacre.

Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos and ending with the massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee, this extraordinary book tells how the American Indians lost their land, lives and liberty to white settlers pushing westward. Woven into an engrossing saga of cruelty, treachery and
Paperback, 487 pages
Published 1991 by Vintage (first published April 1970)
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Tarah Hi- 2 years late, but I had the same question (so maybe you'll get the update that I've responded). I had serious problems placing events (being both …moreHi- 2 years late, but I had the same question (so maybe you'll get the update that I've responded). I had serious problems placing events (being both generally bad at geography and at remembering things). So I went through and MADE annotations to maps wherever I could. I've shared it on a Google Doc. If folks find any others, please let me know!
Granny Not every book is a big pile of happy. This book is noteworthy on a number of levels, not the least of which was that it was the first to tell the sto…moreNot every book is a big pile of happy. This book is noteworthy on a number of levels, not the least of which was that it was the first to tell the story of the West from the point of view of Native People and receive widespread attention for it. It became associated with AIM (The American Indian Movement) and the retaking of Wounded Knee in protest in the late 1960's / early 1970's.

All my textbooks growing up were whitewashed (forgive the pun). This book blew me away. I was proud to be able to give a copy to an Apache friend of mine before he passed away. It meant a lot to him, he said it was the first time he saw the truth written down in a book.

In any situation, looking at a situation from a new point of view broadens the mind and deepens the understanding. This is one of the great books of history of all time.(less)

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Jun 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"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
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*
Fair warning, there may be some political views in this review which should not be surprising being that this book is the history of a government slaughtering a native people because they were simply in the way.

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

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

Native Americ
Jan 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. Especially Americans.
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Dee Alexander Brown

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century.

The book expresses details of the history of American expansionism from a point of view that is critical of its effects on the Native Americans.

Brown describes Native Americans' displacement through
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, race
This was a remarkably depressing book. It is the sort of book that shows over and over again that there was literally nothing the Native Americans could have done to protect themselves from the all consuming and endlessly veracious greed of the European settlers. Just about every ‘tactic’ imaginable was used by the Native Americans – from treaties to war to abject capitulation – and nothing made any difference. The final result was always the same.

This is a tale of genocide. It is a tale in whic
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: Mariah Roze
Dee Brown takes the reader on a thorough and quite disheartening journey through the military and political journey to settle the Western frontier of the United States of America. There is much within this piece of non-fiction that pushes the boundaries and Brown does not hold back in his delivery. The central premise of the book is to explore many of the Indian (and I use this term, as it is peppered throughout by Brown, though I acknowledge is a derogatory term in Canada) settlements and the g ...more
“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 t
Mariah Roze
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mariah Roze by: Matt
I read this book for the Goodreads' book club Diversity In All Forms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link:

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

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

The stories range from multiple different tr
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
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 fr
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
aPriL does feral sometimes
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
B the BookAddict

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
Roy Lotz
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 coy boys, settlers, and soldiers who settled the West. It 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 o ...more
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in American history
Shelves: books-i-own, history
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 ...more
Feb 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 the
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: native
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
Theresa Alan
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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) destro
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-us
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
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in learning the truth about our native heritage
Recommended to booklady by: a National Park Ranger
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 America ...more
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remember the advertisement to prevent littering... now I know why the Native American is crying. This is a seriously difficult read that made my heart truly ache for Native Americans. So many lies and treaties broken to them. A must read for anyone who studies history.
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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 ea
Wayne Barrett

This is a tough one to review. Not because it isn't a good book, the writing and the details in the historical events provided is exceptional. It's tough because I believe I am just emotionally exhausted by the amount of similar stories I have digested in the last year. Late last year I read "Blood and Thunder", early this year I finished "Trail of Tears", and at this time, even though it is fiction (it is historical fiction) I am re-reading "Blood Meridian". It is so much information that I rea
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the more famous novels which recounts the tales of the Native Americans suffering through the loss of their homes, lives, and cultures. This book took me a long time to get through, and not because it was a bad book, or boring, but because it was so difficult to read through.

I was adopted off of a reservation out in Iowa because my mother and her family were so destitute they couldn't afford to take on a child, many Natives living in modern times are living in squalor, with alcoh
Lewis Weinstein
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.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee reveals a sordid little truth about human beings: they have a great capacity to be cruel, to be prejudiced against someone not like themselves, and to justify any kind of horrid behavior with a logic that defies belief. Having just read The Narrow Road to the Deep North, it would have been easy to say, “How could the Japanese be so cruel and inhuman?” And, how often have we asked that same question about the Germans toward the Jews, or Southerners against their blac ...more
Gary Guinn
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, subtitled “An Indian History of the American West,” first published in 1971, became a classic, and has been widely translated and gone through many printings. It has been one of those books that I was familiar with for most of my life but had never read.
Until now.
And now, like so many people before me, I’m mesmerized by Brown’s beautiful storytelling and by the Native American people for whom he speaks. Each chapter begins with a brief overview of some
Helga Cohen
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a heartbreaking account of the systemic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the western United States. Brown explores in a frank depiction how all the great Indian tribes were lied to, cheated and killed by the US government and military so they could settle the best territories and plunder the land and expand it for personal gain. Our United States was not expanded and built on freedom but on greed and oppression.

For many years before this book came o
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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, wh ...more

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