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"Shattering, appalling, compelling....One wonders...who indeed were the savages." ( Washington Post)
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By J.B. on 04-12-16
Easy to Listen To, Difficult to Hear About
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, by Dee Brown, and narrated By Grover Gardner. I first read the history in the late 1970s. I had to stop before I finished the complete paperback. Too much sorrow. But its poignancy remained in my mind these last 30 years. So it was time to go to the book again. This time on Audible.
Bury My Heart explains the North American Indians realized the white migrants to their land were far too numerous to withstand. So, as nations, they entered into treaties to provide themselves the opportunity to live in peace and preserve some of their traditional life. But the Americans treated the original natives as being less than human. Each treaty promise, and in fact any promise made was never given the slightest necessity to be upheld by the white settlers, their military or the political government. Not even flags of truce. More than once when a parley was asked for under a white flag, it was but an opportunity for the military to murder the peace seeking emissaries. The attitude was ever present that since these were mere Indians they could be lied to, detested, blamed without cause, abused; all done in the name of the superiority of the European genetics and a methodology for taking the bounty of the land from the aboriginal natives. The tragedy is only multiplied because those tribesmen from the Iroquois, to the Cherokee, to the Sioux, to the Apache, to the Arapaho and all the others were obligated in their own moral ethos to adhere to their word and expected the great white fathers/settlers to do the same.
The settler’s lack of compunction against killing a Native American, whether a warrior, a woman, a child or an elderly is now unfathomable. When a native was found they were butchered, for any or no reason at all. The truth is, according to Dee Brown, we, the European Americans, were no better then, than Isis in today’s world. Doesn’t that surprise you? Some examples: At the Battle of Sand Creek on November 29, 1864, U.S. Army Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist preacher, freemason, and opponent of slavery set out to kill any and every Indian he could find with a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia. In the morning hours he attacked and destroyed a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho in the southeastern Colorado Territory. His direction and undertaking was to kill and should you wish mutilate, any found Indian. An estimated 70–163 Native Americans, about two-thirds of whom were women and children were murdered. The village men were off hunting. This was not a tragedy by error, it was an intended slaughter, notwithstanding a treaty between the U.S. and the nation to which the village inhabitants belonged to. The whites had a manifest destiny and that permitted not obeying their Treaty obligations. The Indians did not have the same option. In the end, they just needed to be murdered because they were “savages,” according to the Colonel. Then there was General Philip Sheridan who in the Winter Campaign of 1868–69 attacked the Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Comanche tribes in their winter quarters, taking their supplies and livestock and killing those who resisted, driving the rest back into their reservations for no other reason than they were Indians. The Indians left the reservation because the promised lands did not provide wildlife to hunt or livestock to manage, were un-farmable and in most cases the U.S. Congress never authorized funds for meeting its commitments to supply the Treaties’ obligations to the Indian nations with promised supplies. Congress promised but never authorized. When the starving Indians left the reservation to trap food, the American whites claimed a treaty violation and the right to punish the nation for its attempts in derogation of the Treaties. General Sheridan’s two famous quotes are, (1) “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead," and (2) "Let them [the railroad agents] kill, skin and sell until the buffalo is exterminated."
Should you think I have given away the tragedies in the story? Fear not. Bury My Heart has at least a dozen and a half more embarrassments to tell you about.
The Indian nations left us two moral standards which we continue with today and which have become an essential part of our ethos. A man’s word is his bond and we are all humans benefiting from our gracious earth. Because they believed in a man’s word, they succumbed to the treachery of the latter half of the 19th Century American double crossing land grabs, gold diggers, and American politicians.
At least, though, they left us the values of humanity and preservation of our earth. I finished the book this time. An easy read, yet a difficult chore.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By steve on 11-12-12
Great book, even better book for those who enjoy learning about American history and even better for those who are interested in learning about how the Natives were raped, slaughtered and had their land stolen from them. I especially enjoyed how each chapter began with a brief time line of what was going on in terms of history and curent events during those specific years that the book is discussing. Excellent narrator too! He did a great job in reading this book and captivated the listener. There was so much great information in this book, I will definitely need to listen to it again just to try to digest everything.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
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By Ciaran on 11-01-13
What an awesome story
Where does Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
This is probably the best book I've read this year and I'm now searching to know more about the history of the native Indian Americans.
What did you like best about this story?
The book knitted together many different parts of the varied history of the push west, the treaties, the broken treaties, the bloodshed, the desire for peace and living together which never truly appeared until the Indian was virtually wiped off the map.
What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Grover Gadrner's reading was very effective and told a story rather than just read the book. It made for really good listening.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
I couldn't listen to the book for more than an hour at a time it was so dreadfully sad but it fully engaged me each time and I wanted to listen to more, I didn't want the story to end. One of the sadest parts of the story was when soldiers hanged 38 Indians in one execution and they went to their deaths as if horrible and early death was an expected part of their lives. How horrible that we let this happen because of our greed.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Cliff on 01-23-13
I learned so much
Great yarn with lots of nuggets of interesting information. Loved the narrator too. Whilst it was great entertainment I found it very educational too.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By stu on 02-06-15
Awesome book.....But leaves you very sad that these great tribes were wiped off the face of the earth...
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 03-11-18
A harrowing tale!
A book that is very difficult to get through such is the nature of the atrocities written about in these pages. A book that should be read by everyone!