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Monthly Bonus Reads > Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (November 2017)

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message 1: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
November Bonus Read- Native American Heritage Month

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown


message 2: by Cam (new)

Cam I've just started this as all the reviews stress how long it took to read because of how intense and harrowing the book is.
So far it reads very much like 1960s/70s nonfiction (deluge of dates and focus on "big actors") but it's a fascinating and depressing read. Even though it is a classic case of settler colonialism we so rarely think of the US in that way that those reminders are very thought-provoking.


message 3: by Choko (new)

Choko (chokog) I am saving my spot for this one:)


message 4: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
I'm on hold for this book! Can't wait till it comes in :)


message 5: by Donna (last edited Oct 11, 2017 03:27PM) (new)

Donna | 15 comments Cam wrote: "I've just started this as all the reviews stress how long it took to read because of how intense and harrowing the book is.
So far it reads very much like 1960s/70s nonfiction (deluge of dates and ..."


It's a heartbreaking book. I read it when I was in high school, but will re-read it for this discussion. In addition, I recommend An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Dunbar-Ortiz, and The Other Slavery by Resendez. There are numerous others, as well, but these two are more recently published books that give an overview of U.S. history that is not white-washed.


message 6: by Candace (new)

Candace | 41 comments Just placed a hold on the book with my local public library. Hope to start it this week.


message 7: by Cam (new)

Cam Donna wrote: "Cam wrote: "I've just started this as all the reviews stress how long it took to read because of how intense and harrowing the book is.
So far it reads very much like 1960s/70s nonfiction (deluge o..."


Thank you for those suggestions! I will add them to my reading list. Coming from Europe, we know so little about the history of the US before the colonies.


message 8: by Mackey (new)

Mackey (mackeylee) I read this first in 8th grade when Mr. Brown came to our class to speak to us. Meeting him changed my life forever. I've read it many times since and look forward to doing so again with you guys.


message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 05, 2017 09:29AM) (new)

I am starting this tonight! I just finished Killers Of the Flower Moon, so this is a perfect book to continue on with Native American history.


message 10: by Donna (new)

Donna | 15 comments Cam wrote: "Coming from Europe, we know so little about the history of the US before the colonies. ."
The two I recommended focus on the times during and after colonization. The history before the colonies comes from archaeology and from oral histories (which may not be shared with outsiders). I can't think of any book off the top of my head that cover general history of the Americas before colonization. There are some that are specific to certain areas/periods/tribes.


message 11: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
I started this today!!! Yay :)
Is anyone else reading other books about Native Americans. I am reading this book to my students: Indian Chiefs by Russell Freedman Indian Chiefs by Russell Freedman


message 12: by Cam (new)

Cam Just finished it. Heart-breaking and infuriating and terrifying. Will collect my thoughts and write something a bit more coherent tomorrow.


message 13: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Nov 11, 2017 03:54PM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 436 comments The edition I got from my library has gorgeous actual photos and illustrations.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6...


message 14: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
Cam wrote: "Just finished it. Heart-breaking and infuriating and terrifying. Will collect my thoughts and write something a bit more coherent tomorrow."

I look forward to your review!


message 15: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "The edition I got from my library has gorgeous actual photos and illustrations.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6..."


Oh wow! I wonder if I could find this version.


message 16: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
I finished this heartbreaking book yesterday night! Here is my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Is anyone planning on watching the movie?


message 17: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Cottrell (lcottrell14) I am. I just requested it from my library's consortium. So I should get it in a few days.


message 18: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "I am. I just requested it from my library's consortium. So I should get it in a few days."

Let us know how it is!


message 19: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1392 comments Mod
You drive a library truck? Tell more!


message 20: by Matt (new)

Matt (canada_matt) There comes a time in your reading life that a book opens a spigot and you gush. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

When Mariah asked me to be a part of this group and I finally accepted, this was the first book she thought I ought to read, and so I did. Some may love what I have to say and others may dislike it (or me a great deal). Either way, I am raw and fairly blunt in my views... so here we go:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 21: by Cam (new)

Cam Sorry it took me so long to post this, life got in the way!

was such a depressing and fascinating read, especially as I teach on a module on European colonisation of Africa at university and had been been preparing a lecture about the "Scramble for Africa". The processes are very similar, especially in the case of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), with the relentless overlapping disruptive processes of explorers - missionaries - traders - trading companies - officials - settlers. The Cheyenne chapter really reminded me of Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

I thought introducing each chapter with dates and quotes was really interesting and struck a good balance between grand and personal histories. The choice of archives to represent Native American voices was a relief, even though it read very much of its time: focused on big names, battles, negotiations, strategies, grand proclamations. As a history of the American West, I would have loved to hear more about the impact of missionaries on social and spiritual life (we only hear a bit about this in the final chapter, and glimpses on previous ones) or on environmental management and destruction (only mentioned in passing), or on gender roles. We had a few quotes about women's low status in some societies but this was taken as a given (thank you 20th century male-dominated academia). Modocs might have usee "behave like women" to mean cravenly and seen males as having to "protect [their] women", but Sioux appear to have sent a squaw on their dangerous reconnaissance mission to capture horses despite wanting to "fight like men".

Those limitations are indicative of the era though, as history was generally taken to be "the deeds of great men" and so from this perspective Dee Brown does an amazing job of broadcasting the voices of Native Americans and helping tell those important stories. Many issues ring so true even today, whether it's environmental impact, intolerance of other ways of life, acceptance of inequality/lack of "Christian" charity ('the white man knows how to make everything, but he doesn't know how to distribute' - Sitting Bull), or the power of the hate press in the Geronimo chapter (reminded me of the Daily Mail here in the UK).


message 22: by Matt (new)

Matt (canada_matt) Cam wrote: "Sorry it took me so long to post this, life got in the way!

was such a depressing and fascinating read, especially as I teach on a module on European colonisation of Africa at university and had b..."


Fabulous summary, Cam!


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 436 comments I finished listening to a podcast about the Serbian-Croat-Bosnian (Yugoslavia) War recently. Serbia more purposefully developed and used the same tactics the US military/government haphazardly developed coincidentally against the Indians (I wish Canada's 'First Nation' descriptor was used in the States too.) Everybody thinks of Hitler's camps, but his persecution of Jews also was a slow, fits-and-starts trajectory of mounting violence, here, then there, then there over years, while the world watched.

Genocide seems to be a common response from humanity, a lurking part of the psychology of the human mind held back only by lack of permission from leaders and social mores. In my opinion, cameras do not seem to change any equation of the stopping of a human need to begin killing off all of 'the other'. Cameras watched 'live' from the killing of non-combat Vietnamese villagers to the Myanmar Rohingya.

Anyone ever listen or see how men in active military service are taught to kill, which they must learn? They hear constant lectures and songs and other techniques which dehumanize the other side.

I have not finished 'Bury My Heart', but I read elsewhere that in the 1860's the American military intentionally sent to the Western regions of America often men without education or mercy, since those men were criminals many communities had forced to leave their hometowns or be hanged.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 436 comments Cam wrote: "Sorry it took me so long to post this, life got in the way!

was such a depressing and fascinating read, especially as I teach on a module on European colonisation of Africa at university and had b..."


Great summary!


message 25: by Matt (new)

Matt (canada_matt) So pleased to see your sentiments, April!


message 26: by Cam (new)

Cam Thanks April that's a great point as well. The fact that we now have a word to describe "genocide" is of very little use when the mechanics of de-humanisation and glorification of violence are happily perpetuated.


message 27: by Candace (new)

Candace | 41 comments I have finished this heavily, researched book, full of tragedy and sacrifice. My review can be found at Candace review Bury My Heart


message 28: by Cam (new)

Cam Thanks both Matt and April for the kind words. I also found the use of the term "Indian" throughout a little bit jarring, like all use of terminology which we now consider racist and demeaning. I don't know how significant it is that the preferred term is now "Native AMERICANS" whereas it's First Nations in Canada, but it seems to overlap with different discourses of national identity...


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 436 comments A long time ago I picked up on a whim six books in this series, link below:

Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849

I finally read them recently in the last year or so. The books take patience, especially since the diarists repeated the same entries day after day (but they were still fascinating to me, reflecting what women felt and saw, yet they were constrained from even noting when they were pregnant, using a short sentence when women gave birth and either bore a living or dead or sickly baby in the middle of a empty plain or mountain trail) but occasionally they ran into First Nation tribes. Those entries were fascinating.

The diarists could barely read and write in some cases, more rarely, others were educated, but their fears of First Nation tribes were profound at first. As time went on, though, they figured out the natives were primarily intent on demanding food or items of metal they could use. The academics who pulled these diaries out of libraries and families attics noted the natives believed they were owed food payments because of treaties as well as legal tolls they were owed by settlers for passage over their territory. However, no one told the settlers. They uniformly write of how natives 'begged'.

The lack of communication and cultural ignorance was so exceptionally destructive and a huge factor in how ordinary white people were manipulated into malevolent behavior and attitudes towards natives. How can one avoid thinking their ignorance and resulting attitude was an intentional government plan from some government authorities, most of whom were educated and knowledgable?


message 30: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Nov 16, 2017 03:50PM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 436 comments As to what missionaries believed, I was interested because I attended Marcus Whitman Junior High in the 1960's:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcu...

Back then (7th-9th grade), I was taught the good Whitman and other Washington State settlers/Christians tried to save the souls and bring civilized habits to the dirty savage unread and unworldly Indians. Of course, we were taught the missionaries were clean, educated and civilized decent and moral people. My mother was an Alaskan native, which spurred me to investigate later when I went to college.

It seems, based on eyewitness diaries and letters, as well as academic investigations of donated library papers, the truth was more harsher. Missionaries were often trained by religious organizations which were NOT from academic or informed European University standards. Instead, if missionaries had an 'education' it was learning to read and understand the Bible in quickie 2-week instructive classes or testing by religious organizations, qualifications certified by local small-town or county self-appointed church societies. Some simply were regular farmers or housewives who were answering a call or dream to become a missionary. There were ads everywhere in local community news papers and flyers asking for volunteers for missionary work - and all of the training was from some organization which provided two to six weeks of instruction and testing for moral character. Some simply felt God told them to sell all of their goods and land, pick up a Bible and go West. There were no laws preventing self-appointed missionaries from saying they were missionaries. it could be very lucrative.

According to non-missionary settlers, missionaries who had schools for natives were very, shall we say, unregulated. Many taught natives some English and American reading and writing, but many more abused natives, using native children and women for slave labor in doing housework and farming around the missionaries' land holdings. All of them had difficulty keeping native students coming to be taught. Of those able to keep natives in their seats for any period of time (even settlers' white children did not attend school regularly in those days), natives could not speak English, and missionaries could not speak the native languages. Communication was a formidable problem. There are many many many letters in library collections written by settlers missionaries describing their despair at the rudimentary understanding of Bible stories and concepts they were able to communicate to 'their' natives.

As far as what non-missionary settlers wrote in diaries and letters, they noticed wholesale abandonment of missionary schools by natives whenever the missionaries periodically reduced or cut off food giveaways.

Most of the missionary letters were full of ignorant feelings of superiority over native life and religions, using words like heathens, savages, brutes...most felt no need to make an effort to learn about their students or their lives.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 436 comments In addition (TMI? Apologies in advance) the Baptist covered wagon women thought Catholics were straight out from Hell. In their diaries, they asaw Catholics as devils hoping to divert honest Christians from keeping their eyes on heaven. In Washington State in the 1860's, 1870's, apparently it was open skirmishes between Catholics and Protestant missionaries, as well as multiple sabatoge efforts between Protestant sects. If I remember correctly, one small Protestant missionary settlement actually 'sic'ed' their natives on another small missionary, but different, Protestant ranch farm settlement.


message 32: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Cottrell (lcottrell14) Cam wrote: "Thanks both Matt and April for the kind words. I also found the use of the term "Indian" throughout a little bit jarring, like all use of terminology which we now consider racist and demeaning. I d..."

I don't completely agree that the term Indian is universally considered racist by Native Americans. I have talked with members of a club for those of different tribes and they prefer different terms to refer to Native Americans, Indians, Natives, indigenous, etc. For example their club was called 'American Indians Reaching Out' and a popular news site is called 'Indian Country Today'. It seems to really depend on the person and perhaps there are regional preferences at well. Whenever possible if referring to a specific tribe use the name of their tribe.
This article interviews 6 Native Americans on their preference on what terminology they prefer. I thought some of you may find it interesting. https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com...


message 33: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Cottrell (lcottrell14) Last night I watched the movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. I would not consider the movie a historical documentary but historical fiction because the producers took some creative license to make the film dramatic. The film's main character are Sitting Bull, Charles Eastman, and Senator Henry Dawes. Charles Eastman was a Sioux boy who was sent away by his father for school and became a doctor. He was working with Senator Henry Dawes to help the Sioux by dividing up their reservation and moves there to serve as their doctor. I found the most moving/horrific scene in the movie was when they went to recover the bodies at Wounded Knee. I know the book had the picture of Sitting Bull's frozen body but the movie made this even more real and disturbing to me. This film was very depressing but I'm so glad I watched it.

I was curious about how Native Americans viewed the movie. So I looked up a few reviews. It seems that some really enjoyed the movie and found it quite entertaining. Others took issues with some parts of the film such as Sitting Bull's cruelty. In the movie, he shoots a horse to prevent tribe members from leaving Canada and he also whips young men for stealing Crow horses. I am curious as to why the filmmakers portrayed him this way since there is no documentation that he was a cruel leader.

I know I am not a great reviewer, but I hope this helps those who were interested in the movie. I am leaving so many details out but I hope you will consider taking the time to watch the film and form your own opinion. I think it is a worthwhile and stirring watch.


message 34: by Matt (new)

Matt (canada_matt) Lauren wrote: "Last night I watched the movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. I would not consider the movie a historical documentary but historical fiction because the producers took some creative license to make..."

Thanks for the insight, Lauren. The library just brought the film in for me. Now I am not sure if I want to rush out and collect it.


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