0020 | Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown



REVIEW:
Took me a long while to read this. It wasn’t that it was a boring read. Far from it. But it was a disturbing read and the fact that each chapter follows virtually the same pattern made it that much harder to read. You knew from the start how it would end, though you desperately hoped it wouldn’t.

Dee Brown’s book should be required reading for every US citizen and on the booklist for anyone considering US citizenship. It tells the true story of what the US was built on. Far from what is often claimed, the country was not built on Christian principles of freedom but rather on what every other country, including my own, was built on: oppression and greed. It isn’t that that troubles me. I’m not that naive. What troubles me is how this flies in the face of the many claims I hear that the founding of the US differs from any other in the humanity and any reasoning that this places it uniquely in the modern world as the arbitrator of global “justice.”

The catalogue of crimes against humanity detailed by Brown is chilling but I was shocked at where the guilt for these crimes lies. I had originally thought that the Native Americans were suppressed and wiped out by settlers, miners, ranchers and mercenaries. Although they may well have pulled the trigger on more occasions that most, I was stunned by how often the proud and truly great people of that continent were betrayed by the US government and military. Promise after promise was broken. Lies were deliberately told for national gain at their expense from Presidents down. It is a shameful story of the greed which fashioned the US into the nation it is today.

The worst thing about it all is that over 35 years since Brown’s book was published that the average US citizen mentions nothing as to how their country was really founded and the west won. It was not won at all. It was stolen outright. It is a humbling endictment of what some claim is the greatest nation the world has ever seen. If this is the greatest nation the world can come up with, we have truly seen that humanity is rotten to the core when we discover that “the land of the free” is no longer “the home of the brave.”

OPENING LINE
Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun.

WORDS
lariat: An open-ended, long strand necklace. Sometimes looped into a knot or used with a slide so that the two ends hang free.
sardonic: Scornfully or cynically mocking

CLOSING LINE
“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.” ~ Red Cloud

RATING:
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb

FINISHED:
2007 – Apr

  • Chuck Waterman April 14, 2007, 10:20 pm

    All the horrors committed by white Euro-Americans upon Native Americans are truly something that should shock and mature current US citizens to a proper humility in the same way that the horrors perpetrated by some of their former countrymen have matured and changed the nature of current German society.

    However, Germans are not Nazis, nor are Americans genocidal. Our history is bigger than these horrors. There may be no culture on Earth that can be said to have no such horrors in their history. In the same way, we should be sure to look for the God-given blessings that each culture may offer the world. Americans have no monopoly on this.

    As is true with Christians, American culture is judged not on its belief system but on the failures of its leaders. Fortunately, the spirit of the European-settled United States does not lie with the oppressors who managed to convince the general populace that its unjust horrors were actually righteous and appropriate actions, any more than the church-sanctioned Crusades demonstrate the true nature of the followers of Christ.

    Reply
  • Cipriano April 23, 2007, 2:20 am

    Wow. You have made me put this book on my own Wishlist.
    And your site, on my own Blogroll.
    Wonderful review.
    This is the most attractive and well formatted bookblog website I have ever seen.

    Reply
  • John April 23, 2007, 11:09 pm

    wow… that’s the most complimentary comment on a bookblog website I have ever seen. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Matt May 4, 2007, 11:58 pm

    I’ve had this book on my reading list for quite awhile now. I really need to get to it. Even though I’m somewhat aware of the atrocities my country has committed I think I’m afraid to face them completely. That time period is not something I look upon with any sort of pride. It is interesting to read the Constitution, to see what principles the U.S. was founded on and then to see how many times those principles were completely ignored in our history. Thanks for the review. I realize I really need to get to this book.

    Reply
  • Imani May 29, 2007, 11:10 am

    Did you hear about what happened with the film adaptation of this book? Apparently the creators/producers decided to include a mixed-race (native american and causcasian) character that did not exist in the book because they didn’t think that America was ready to see a film that didn’t have any white people.

    Can you imagine? I couldn’t. I’ll read the book but I’ll pass on the film no matter how good it is. The reasoning behind that decision was too upsetting.

    Reply
  • John May 29, 2007, 8:28 pm

    @ Imani – yes absolutely appalling. Not only that but how long it has taken to get an adaptation even made. Grim.

    Reply
  • Daniel March 28, 2008, 12:47 am

    Great review ….I completely agree with you however I think the whole world should read this book, not just the U.S.A.!!! this heartbreaking account of a nation was given to me many years ago, it taught me a lot about the “civilised” Western world we live in today, but the following extract is even better……

    Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men,
    we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents.
    Without a prison, there can be no delinquents.
    We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves.
    When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent or a blanket,
    he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift.
    We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property.
    We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being
    was not determined by his wealth.
    We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians,
    therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.
    We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know
    how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things
    that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.

    John (Fire) Lame Deer
    Sioux Lakota – 1903-1976

    Reply
  • Boat Rod August 5, 2009, 3:24 am

    Hopefully our native american friends can feel vindicated of their ruthless oppression to some small degree. Our histroy books are so biased and never tell the real truth but instead gloat on the leaders of the U.S. Leaders and Generals.

    Reply

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