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Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee Book Essay Certificate

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: The Illustrated Edition
by Dee Brown
Publisher: Sterling Innovation
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
ISBN: 9781402760662
560 Pages (Hardcover)

Summary (from the publisher):

For the first time: a full-color illustrated edition of Dee Brown’s classic history of the American West!

Eloquent, heartbreaking, and meticulously documented, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee follows the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the 19th century. Upon its publication in 1970, the book was universally lauded and became a cultural phenomenon that proved instrumental in transforming public perceptions of manifest destiny and the “winning” of the West.

Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown’s work highlighted the voices of those American Indians who actually experienced the battles, massacres, and broken treaties. Here is their view of the events that ultimately left them demoralized and defeated, including: the Battle of Sand Creek; Red Cloud’s War; the Battle of the Little Bighorn; and, of course, the Wounded Knee Massacre. Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Spotted Tail—the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Cheyenne, and other tribes—come to life through their own words and formal portraits.

Now, hundreds of illustrations—including maps, photographs, sketches, and paintings—enhance Brown’s masterpiece, making it even more vivid and personal. In addition to the incredible images, this edition also features relevant excerpts from such highly acclaimed Native-American themed books as Where White Men Fear to Tread by Russell Means, Mystic Chords of Memory by Michael Kammen, and Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog, as well as all-new essays by contemporary historians and Native American leaders like Elliott West and Joseph Marshall III.


He was surprised to see tears well up in Spotted Tail’s eyes; he did not know that an Indian could weep.

Page 146

When the troops came up to them they ran out and showed their persons to let the soldiers know they were squaws and begged for mercy, but the soldiers shot them all. . .

Page 108

You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases . . . 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.

Let me be a free man – free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself – and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.

– Chief Joseph, Page 385

My Opinion:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee should be required reading for every high school and college student in the country. Filled with horrific and heartbreaking stories from the history of the interactions between Native Americans and white men, it is brutally honest about both sides of the story. Dee Brown managed to take the documents and history of Native Americans, and recount them from the Native American point of view.

When I started reading this book I thought I had a pretty good handle on what had happen to the American Indians. Sure, they had gotten a raw deal and lost their land to the white people, and what happened was horrible, I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the accounts of intentional slaughter of whole tribes, including women and children, at the order of U.S. officials.

This history book is beautiful to look at, yet sorrowful to read. The illustrations and photographs are excellent, and are printed on high quality paper. It has the look and feel of a coffee table book, while having the content of a history text.

Each section starts with a timeline of what was going on in the world to give a backdrop to the events that are going to be discussed. What it contains is a history of interactions between the white people and the Native Americans, but it is not a comprehensive history of the Native American people (which I think would be impossible to fit into one volume anyway, never mind the lack of sources because of how many tribes have died away).

Major conflicts are addressed in each chapter. For example, there are chapters about: the Navahos, Cheyennes, Apaches, and Nez Perces and their struggles as tribes. There are also chapters dealing with individual Native American leaders such as Little Crow, Red Cloud, Captain Jack, and Standing Bear. Many other Native American leaders and tribes are discussed within the chapters of this book as well.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee documents many, many tragedies, but does a good job of providing the information in chronological order so that you can see the progression of events; the cause and effect. The stories of massacres are not limited to those inflicted on the Native Americans, but also tell of those for which the Native Americans were responsible. Also, the efforts of honest and kind white Americans were recognized throughout the stories (even if their efforts did prove futile in many cases).

In almost every account, even if the Native Americans were at fault for something, whether it was the theft of an animal or the killing of white people, the response from the government was disproportionate, and many times targeted at the wrong people. For example, a tribe from a different location would steal some farm animals, and then the local peaceful tribe of Native Americans would be blamed and attacked. Then the peaceful Native Americans would defend themselves, and once they were at war with the white people there was no going back. Their people and land were either destroyed, or they were sent to reservations where they could be kept penned up and watched.

What astonished me even more was the systematic mistreatment of the Native Americans on reservations. They were denied the right to hunt (because the whites didn’t want them to have guns and ammunition) yet they weren’t given enough food to eat. Add onto that the fact that many were taken from their homelands and made to live in an environment that they were not suited to (whether it was heat or humidity). Many Native Americans died from lack of food, while others died of sickness caused or made worse by their new environment.

The tragedies in this book are too numerous and complicated to list in this review. They are so surprising and so far from what I learned in my high school history class that I am compelled to recommend this book to all Americans. It may not be the most pleasant thing to read about, but we should all know more about this chapter of our history.

This fortieth anniversary edition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a beautiful book, and would make a perfect gift for anyone who is interested in Native American history, or anyone who is interested in photographs of Native Americans. There was a nice selection of photographs from diverse sources, including more than twenty by Edward S. Curtis.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author:

A librarian for many years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dee Brown was the author of more than 25 books on the American West and the Civil War. His Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, considered a classic in its field, was a New York Times bestseller for over a year and has been translated into many languages. Dee Brown died in 2002.

*I received a free copy of this book for review.*

© 2009, At Home With Books. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in 5 Stars, Advance Review Copy, Book Reviews, History, Native American, Nonfiction. Bookmark the permalink.

Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 29 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »



In the 1880s, after the U. S. Army's defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the government continues to push Sioux Indians off their land. In Washington, D.C., Senator Henry Dawes introduces legislation to protect Native Americans rights. In South Dakota, school teacher Elaine Goodale joins Sioux native and Western-educated Dr. Charles Eastman in working with tribe members. Meanwhile, Lakota Chief Sitting Bull refuses to give into mounting government pressures. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary|Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

native american|reservation|massacre|19th century|lakota tribe| See All (146) »


The Epic Fall of the American Indian


Drama | History | Western


TV-14| See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

HBO [United States]





Release Date:

27 May 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Wounded Knee Project See more »

Filming Locations:

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Company Credits

Production Co:

HBO Films, Wolf Films, Traveler's Rest FilmsSee more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1

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