Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Summary
Dee Brown’s classic 1970 history of the American Indian, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, tells the sprawling story of European and Native American encounters from the first contact with Columbus to the 1890 tragedy that was the Massacre at Wounded Knee in which hundreds of innocent Lakota were shot by the US military. The book was one of the first histories of the West to present a sympathetic and balanced approach to the this often notorious part of American history.
The early chapters of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee present first Spanish, and then English brutality as they conquered the eastern American wilderness. With the creation of the United States in the late 18th century, Brown moves his focus onto the early and deteriorating relationship between Native American tribes and the Great White Father in Washington. Included are such indignities as the display of Black Hawk’s skeleton in the office of the governor of Iowa.
Brown then surveys the numerous Western tribes of the American Indian, moving through each tribe’s history of treatment at the hands of the United States government, detailing an endless plight of broken treaties, and deplorable living conditions on ever-shrinking parcels of land. Brown weaves his narrative to the Ghost Dance, which swept through the Lakota Sioux in 1890, a religious revival that spoke of the disappearance of the whites. However, armed resistance ended with the massacre at Wounded Knee that December.