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.