Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

            The book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” written by Dee Brown, an American author illustrates the dark past of the Native Americans. The issues addressed by the author ensure that the reader gets emotional when analyzing the matters covered in the book. The book brilliantly narrates the various experiences that Native Americans went through such as killings committed against them by the government. The book published in a period characterized by strong American Indian activism also shows the displacement of the natives by the government. It shows the massacres, humiliating diplomacy, discriminatory and prevocational policies used by the white settlers on the Native Indians. A critical analysis of the strong description and documentation based on unexploited sources such as firsthand descriptions and government accounts shows that Dee Brown intended the reader to react emotionally towards the issues addressed in the book. The author intended to incite the emotions, anger and sense of the reader by illustrating the humiliations and wrongs committed against the Native Indians by the White Settlers. The author aimed to alter the thinking the people have on the native Indians and present issues from a native person’s perspective.

Dee Brown wanted the readers of the book to change their thinking concerning Native Americans. To achieve this, the author aimed to incite the sense of the people and alter the way the people viewed and thought about the inhabitants of the country. Brown therefore describes how the Native Americans who had a different viewpoint from the rising white settlers were brutally murdered. To incite the reader, the author states that many innocent natives lost both their land and lives to the white settlers. For instance, Brown uses the example of the massacre of Sioux men, women and children in South Dakota (Brown, 2007). The author also aims to use the betrayal to alter the thinking of the reader. He states that most of the promises made by the government to the natives were never met. The land belonging to the natives was given to the white settlers. The natives were mercilessly pushed into reservations. Those who opposed the move were either killed or starved. An evaluation of the book shows that white settlers out their disrespect ignored the treaty they had made with the natives on Native American territory. In an attempt to maintain peace, the Cheyennes and Arapahos met with the White Governor. However, instead of having a meeting, the natives are killed. The governor forces them to enter into a contract. Betrayal by the local government is also experienced when it promises to purchase transportation rights to Powder River country. However, before the treaty could be discussed and completed, the settlers send soldiers to the place.

The author wanted the reader to use to evaluate the views they have on Native Americans. The book influences and modifies the perspective people have concerning Native Americans. Dee Brown uses various primary sources to illustrate how the white settlers placed stereotypes on the natives in bid to break down their culture and traditions. For instance, the white settlers referred to the natives as the “Red Devils” who committed raids and attacks against the white settlers (Brown, 2007). However, research conducted by Dee Brown shows that this was a lie made up by white settlers so that they could get a reason to round up the natives to the reservations camps. The research shows that the things that were said by the white settlers concerning the natives were meant to demean the natives.

The author tells the story of the natives from the perspective of the locals to support and promote the cause of the Native American Indians. The author wanted the readers to base their perspectives on Natives on the views presented in the book. The author states that the white settlers were of the view that the Native Americans did not have rights. Therefore, they could not own land or property. In addition, the white settlers and the government engaged in a number of manipulative essays with the natives. The Santee Sioux were to provide their land to the settlers in exchange of money and other provisions. However, after receipt of the land, the white settlers refused to meet part of their agreement. Because of their strong military power, the natives could not force the payment of the owed amounts. To attain their goals, the author state the white settler government placed different stereotypes on the natives. For instance, the natives were referred to as the “red savages.” After a thorough research, Dee Brown effectively illustrates the brutality committed against the natives by the white settlers (Brown, 2007).

Brown aimed the reader to evaluate the problems the natives underwent under the white settlers. The book gives the wrongs and broken promises committed on the Indians by the government from the Native American’s point of view. He states that the wrongs aimed to demolish the religion, traditions and the way of life of the Indians. To incite the sense of the people, Brown states the livelihood of the Indians changed with the arrival of white settlers. The difference in the viewpoint between the settlers and natives are the main causes of the wrongs committed against the Indians by the settlers. Brown states that the conflict and difference between the government and the native intensified between the years 1860-1890 when the Navajos and the Apaches among other natives sub tribes opposed the government. The government was led by General Custer while the natives were led by their chiefs such as Geronimo, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse in the south. The chiefs used different approaches to oppose the government such as war, retreat and peace. In the North, the author states the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes led the opposition against the government. To deal with the opposition by the native, the author states that the government uses a number of means that are demeaning, violent and dehumanizing. For instance, violence is used to move the natives into reservation camps, the native’s leaders such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse are killed and the execution of opposing tribes.

Brown aims to ensure that the reader thinks over the problems experienced by the natives in the hands of the settlers. The author aims to change the thinking and viewpoint of the people concerning the natives by the giving the views of the natives. He discusses the nature of the relationship between the native and the white settlers. Brown states that initially, the two used to live in peace and harmony. However, as the numbers of the white settlers grew, there was a change in the relation. It became characterized by hate, distrust and fear. The hate and distrust developed because of competition for land. The white settlers came up with negative stereotypes to use as an excuse to move the natives to the reservation camps. They engage in measures to break down the way of life and culture of the natives creating an illusion that it is not beneficial at all and is archaic. The locals are forced to adopt to adopt the white settler culture. The tension between increased with the increase in the number of white immigrants moving into America because of the need for land (Brown, 2007). The author gives the narrative based on his research without including aspects heroism into the book.

In writing the book, Brown aimed to ensure that the reader meditates and thinks over the problems experienced in society in the past and the causes of the problems. The author therefore uses the story to unlock the dark past caused by the activities of the white settler community. The author’s description ensures that the reader gets to know that the white settlers were responsible for the negatives experienced by the American Indians in society. They killed and tortured their victims to achieve their goals such as increase the size of their land. The author shows that the government was also responsible for the problems encountered by the Native Americans. For instance, the government killed and displaced the Apaches and Navahos living in Navaho to get land for white settlements and for mining activities. The author states, “They mutilated and scalped people’s body. The story shows that at the start of the war, the white settlers killed a number of Native Americans forcing Little Crow and his men to enter the fight. However, the Santee were eventually overpowered by the Army under the guidance a Santee traitor” (Brown, 2007).

There are times when the descriptions given by the author seem to provoke anger in the reader regarding the treatment of the Native Americans by the white settlers. The vivid descriptions given by the author appear to be meant to stimulate anger and activism among the reader. The author stated that the natives were murdered for committing no wrong. Those who declined to depart their legally owned land were evicted forcefully and murdered by the American Soldiers. Although traditionally, the Native Americans had tribal chiefs who helped in administration, the white settlers violently replaced them promoting the view that they were not worthy to lead. This prompts the author to state that “I have asked some of the great white chiefs where they get their authority to say to the Indian that he shall stay in one place, while he sees white men going where they please. They cannot tell me” (Brown, 2007).

The book states that the white settlers were unfaithful in the promise they made to the natives. For instance, the made many promises and agreements with the locals but failed to meet prompting the author to state “I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and broken promises” (Brown, 2007).The author aimed to incite the anger of the reader by bringing to light the unknown atrocities and persecutions suffered by the natives in the hand of the white settlers. The author shows the settlers brutality when dealing with the natives. For instance, at the “Powder River Invasion,” the settlers build a fort by the river, which they use to attack the local Cheyennes community. An evaluation of the book shows that the author was able to achieve the objectives he had when he was writing the book.


Works Cited

Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2007

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