Analysis of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Analysis of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:  An Analysis

 

 

Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a fully documented

account of the annihilation of the American Indian in the late

1800s ending at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Brown brings to light

a story of torture and atrocity not well known in American

history. The fashion in which the American Indian was exterminated

is best summed up in the words of Standing Bear of the Poncas,

"When people want to slaughter cattle they drive them along until

they get them to a corral, and then they slaughter them. So it was

with us_. "

 

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a work of non-fiction, attempts to

tell the story of the American West from the perspective of the

indigenous population, The American Indian. That in itself makes

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee an important work of literature as

it is one of the few books supporting the Indian cause. This is

done through the use of council records, autobiographies, and

first-hand accounts.

 

Each of the book's nineteen chapters deals with a certain tribe,

battle, or historical event. Brown goes into deep and explicit

detail throughout, as evidenced by the book's nearly 500 pages.

However, while some may complain Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is

boring or text-book-like, I believe the opposite is actually true.

Generally, very little is known about this terrible genocide and

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a wonderful and interesting

learning tool. Brown has written many books about the life of the

American Indian, including Creek Mary's Blood and Killdeer

Mountain, but Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is clearly his

greatest work.

 

Brown made sure to include songs, quotes, and portraits sprinkled

throughout the book. These are very important as they break the

monotony of page after page of text. The portraits are well

selected and placed, as are the quotes, and help present a wider

picture of the point in history.

 

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee helps to open a door into our past.

It forces us to look at the dark side of our American history and

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the lengths white men went to fulfill our Christian manifest

destiny. With the exception of a few soldiers and civilians, the

white man is portrayed as an indiscriminate murderer and sadist.

They killed Native Americans regardless of age or sex often

scalping and mutilating the bodies, and even going as far as

cutting their genitalia from their bodies. These bizarre and

shocking revelations give the reader a horrifying view of the

birth of our great nation.

 

As with any book of this nature, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has

a few shortcomings. One of the greatest, I believe, is the

language Brown used. In some places, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

is difficult to understand and could lose potential readers. This

is a book every American should read, but the writing techniques

and vocabulary used prove to be a challenge. However, the events

this book reveals make reading it worthwhile.

 

Another complaint is that each chapter tells the same story, just

with different tribes. But, I believe Brown had a purpose for

writing this way. It shows that no matter where the Indians

turned, they were slaughtered. This is a powerful point and I

believed it was clearly conveyed.

 

The merits of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee far outweigh its few

faults. It tells a story that is not well known or understood, but

is a crucial and horrible part of our American heritage. The book

is comprehensive, but only tells the beginning of what was done in

the name of manifest destiny and war profiteering.

 

Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a wonderfully written

and insightful piece of American literature. The author asks us to

confront our past, which may make us uncomfortable. But there are

two sides to every story, and Brown shows us the side that we

rarely see. By forcing us to think about these issues, Dee Brown

accomplished the goal he set out to achieve when he began writing

this eye opening account of the American West.

 
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