Bury My Heart
at Wounded
Knee
by
Dee Brown
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This is probably the most widely influential book on American history
written in the 20th century. Dee Brown was a Librarian at the University of
Illinois, and had written 15 books on American history before writing "Bury
My Heart at Wounded Knee". His habitual professionalism is very evident
in the excellent documentation and research which went into this
complex history of the American West seen from an Indian perspective.
This book was first published in 1970, a period of social upheaval in the
United States. The Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island, a high profile and
easily defended piece of real estate in San Fransisco Bay, had begun in
1969 and continued though most of 1970. Representatives of many Indian
Nations participated in the defense of this small rock, a symbol to them of
treaties broken by the American government. For 18 months these selfless
individuals sacrificed their safety, comfort, and future to make a point.
Many Indian people were energized by their bravery. In 1973, the
occupation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian Movement to protest
abuse and murder of native people resulted in a fire fight and stand-off
that drew world wide attention to U.S. Government polices in dealing with
Indians. These events marked a change in American policy, and returned
self-governance to most Federally recognized tribes. While litigation for
redress of wrongs and broken treaties continues, notably the BIA's
inability to account for billions of dollars supposedly held in trust for
individual Indians, the progress made toward the restoration of free,
sovereign, and self sufficient native governments since this book was first
published is astounding.
If you have never read this essential work of American history, your
education on the subject is incomplete. Buy a copy, read it slowly, and
think of how these accounts are different from the history you learned
watching "Gunsmoke" re-runs. Reading this book is like waking slowly
from a dream, like seeing in the daylight a landscape you had only seen at
night. A truly mind expanding work by an excellent author.