booklady's Reviews > Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
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's review
Apr 19, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2001, history, travel, war, worth-reading-over-and-over, classic, 2005
Recommended to booklady by: a National Park Ranger
Recommended for: anyone interested in learning the truth about our native heritage
Read in June, 2001

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!
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Monica Thanks booklady for the heads up on the DVD!!! It's on my Must Never Watch list!

booklady There are probably better books on each individual battle and/or tribe, geographical area, etc., but looking on the Western tribes as a whole, this book is the most readable history which covers the broad scope of most of the tribes, major battles and gives the big picture history of what happened to the Native American tribes west of Mississippi in the middle to latter part of the 19th century. It's a sobering read and yet mostly free of the modern agenda which seemed to ooze out of the movie.

Monica Hello friends!

I'm reading Black Elk Speaks. His visions are hard to imagine; they take patience and your own vision. Here's links to my journey.Facebook picture of the route:
and the route on google maps:

booklady Thanks Monica. I'm not on fb anymore so I can't read the rest of your journey but I did enjoy your review. Sadly, we made our trip nine years ago and so much detail has already faded from memory. However, one thing I do remember clearly was how we drove in search of the site of the Sand Creek massacre and couldn't even find so much as a marker. It seems to lie in the middle of a farm in CO and the closest we could get to it was several miles away. I thought it was a double travesty that there isn't even so much as a sign or plaque -- unless we totally missed it and that is possible, but I don't think so -- to indicate the place where so many Americans were murdered. I didn't notice if you got that far south in your travels...

Monica No, the link shows our northern route. Unlike you, we did it in a few days cause the man I was driving with was attempting to get to grad school early to apply for a ta position at UCSB. I'll google map Sand Creek. I'm curious, too.

Monica Here it is. It's hard to make out with the satellite. It looks like a farm but could have more now

booklady Yes, it is hard to tell but that looks like I remember it: in the middle of nowhere, not near any major highways, only farm roads even close and not even any of those leading up to the site. In a way, it's understandable considering the blot it is on Colorada state history. Other places, like Wounded Knee are accessible because they happen to be on reservations/tribal/communal lands.

Bookguide We travelled around much of this part of America this summer and, having read this book, was shocked and disappointed that there was so little Native American history to visit. It's entirely possible that we missed something we should have seen, but I can't help feeling that if this region had been the site of the Holocaust, there would have been a great deal more major museums telling the story in all its horror. We visited a museum about pueblo Indians who had moved on of their own accord, a museum about Buffalo Bill who campaigned to help the Native Americans, and a trading post with a museum which only talked about one incident where one chief prevented a massacre. Literally nothing about the atrocities which took place.

message 10: by booklady (last edited Nov 02, 2012 02:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

booklady I'm glad you got to see as much as you did get to see. It's probably so much more than most people take the time for. It sounds like you made the best of your resources and you will have many memories to treasure!

The Holocaust involved greater numbers, a more determined push toward genocide and happened closer to our own times, yet there are those who deny it ever happened or dismiss it as insignificant. Nations and groups should never target weaker groups for any reason and yet it has happened throughout history. From my nine years in Europe and extensive travels there were very very few historical reminders of it.

You are right about needing this book to really 'see' the fullness of Native American history when you tour the American West. And yet, I also wonder if that is my European perspective coming through as well. I get to travel around in peace and comfort as a sightseer in my air-conditioned vehicle, judging what others did who lived and struggled and fought in the most primitive circumstances and conditions and (hopefully) did what they thought was best/right at the time. Can we ever know what it was like for those early Americans? Those who crossed the prairies in covered wagons and died in the thousands, those soldiers who were fighting for their lives as well as trying to support families and maybe even do what they believed was right for the country they were forging? And even the so-called and much maligned 'corrupt' politicians were often as ignorant of what they doing as they were the wicked fools they are often depicted as in films.

Don't get me wrong ... I think Dee Brown is an excellent author and this is the best book on the subject of Native American history and as such desperately needed, but I also think there was so so much more to the story of the era. To date, Ken Burn's mini series The West is my personal favorite documentation portraying all sides of our American Western heritage. It includes the tragedy of what happened to the Native Americans without shortchanging the story of the heroic struggles of so many others.

message 11: by Dana (new)

Dana Love your motto! :)

booklady Thanks! :)

Little Bird Yes! I live there! I wish you'd consider reading The Dark Horse Speaks by Little White Bird. A modern look at the same tragedies carrying on today with the American Indian.

booklady At this point in time in my life I am trying to read books I have already acquired and not getting any new ones. But I will add it to my list and you never know...

Little Bird :)Thanks for the reply and for keeping it in mind.

Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma I also recommend Ramon by Helen Hunt Jackson which also talks about native indians in America. You review is wonderful and the book, let us just say am praying I lay my hands on it.

message 17: by booklady (last edited Dec 16, 2016 05:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

booklady Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon wrote: "I also recommend Ramon by Helen Hunt Jackson which also talks about native indians in America. You review is wonderful and the book, let us just say am praying I lay my hands on it."

Thank you Paul! I will keep an eye out for that other book--thanks for the tip!

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