Destruction of American Indians in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Dee Brown s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a documented account of the destruction of the American Indian in the late 18005 ending at the Battle of Wounded Knee 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, Brown brings to light a story of torture not Well known in American history.

It opens the eyes of the reader as to how early settlers treated the American Indians. This was accomplished as she effectively tells of the lndian‘s historical struggle against the white man‘s greed. 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 American Indian.

That 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 Using council records, autobiographies, Congressional records, US, Army treaties and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows those who were there to tell in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that left the Native Americans depraved and defeated. The accurate story of an early American Indian has rarely been told.

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla
5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Most accounts of Indian life in the West from the eighteen hundreds were translated by awhite man. Even the duality of direct statements from early Natives can be questioned. Brown wanted to produce an authentic Indian account of what really took place during this time in American history that should be read Without skepticism.

Each of the book 5 nineteen chapters deals with a certain tribe. battle, or historical event. Brown goes into deep detail throughout the book, as seen by the book s nearly 500 pages. Very little is known about this terrible genocide. 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. The Native Americans never quite understood Why these white skinned people Wanted to destroy their land and their way of life. This book Brown shows example after example of the Indian‘s Willingness to live Side by Side With the white man. However With the idea of manifest destiny echoing through the heads of exalted settlers and the fact that in the far West most tubes were too small, too spread apart, or too weak to offer any real resistance the Indians not only lost their homelands but thousands of lives.

In Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee Dee Brown lets the reader experience what this time in history must have been like. The reader becomes emotionally involved in the condition of the Indians and Will find himself/herse hoping that somehow Brown managed to change history and that this horrible time in the development of What would become the greatest Nation on Earth never occurred. If the last paragraph of the book doesn’t bring a tear to the eye What Will? She allows the reader to not read a historical story, but also to get to know a people lost long ago. Dee Brown shows that through all their hardships the Indians did not become an angry or bitter people. Native Americans had Christianity forced upon them, numerous promises and treaties between them and the settlers broken, they were tricked out of their homeland and out of the land they would later settler on, they Witnessed the assassinations of their leader and the murder of their families.

The native americans just wanted their old way of life back, The atrocities faced by the early Indians are too numerous to account. They struggled at first to keep their land, but in the end they just fought to keep their lives. Dee Brown hoped that those who read this book would walk away from it With a better understanding of who the native americans are by knowmg more about who they were. She Wanted people to understand Why Indians are thought of as a culture of poverty-stricken people full of hopelessness and to show how the misery of a modern Indian Reservation came to be. Brown managed to open eyes with her accurate account of what Native Americans in the West had to endure in the late eighteenth centuw.

Brown made sure to include songs, quotes, and portraits placed throughout the book. 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 ourAmerican history and the lengths white men went to fulfill our Christian manifest destiny. The white man is portrayed as a murderer 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. A complaint that I have is that each chapter tells the same story, just with different tribes But Brown had a purpose for writing this way, He shows that no matter where the Indians turned they were slaughtered. This is a very powerful point and I believed it was clearly shown. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee tells a story that is not well known or understood.

It is a cruCIal and horrible part of ourAmencan heritage. The book tells the beginning of what was done in the name of manifest destiny. While reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. by Dee Brown. I came across many hideous characters, who I found myself cursing eveiy bit of the way and decided that Philip Sheridan, James Carleton, and Kit Carson were the worst of the worst. Manifest destiny guided these men in their bloody pursuit of the Indian nation. They believed it was their God given right to conquer the weaker less ciVIIized people of America. James Carleton concentrated most of his efforts upon the Navahos whose land he greatly valued for its gold. He forced tribe after tribe into a barren reservation in Pecos he named Bosque Redondo and killed those who refused to go. Philip Sheridan seemed to take pride in havmg Indian blood on his hands.

For he was set on killing as many Indians as he could. His methods were to starve Indians into surrendering. Kit Carson was in my opinion the most insidious of them all turning his back on his Indian friends and joined the army to fight the Navahos. He had lived among the Indians as their close companion, but could not turn away from his admiration of the well- spoken well-dressed men at the top. In 1863 in New Mexico he Joined General James Carleton. These three men all committed horrific acts of treachery against the Indian nation which left a burning mark in history, Hardships Indians faced throughout history include being forced out of their country. thousands of lies, and many many deaths. In the story of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, all of these hardships are summed up. Many events led to the demise of the Indians. Treaties, long Marches and especially battles have led to their almost non existence. The Cheyenne was one of the many Indian tribes to have such problems. In the 1840 5-1850 5 there was a great deal of travel to the west. All of the travelers were looking for gold.

This was known as the Gold Rush and it went right through the heart of the Indian lands. With this problem, chiefs from the Cheyenne met with new settlers asking that they leave when they are done searching for gold. This did not happen and many more settlers moved in and started to aquire the Indians land and this was Just the beginning of their problems. The main problem was that the United States wanted them out and the Cheyenne s didn t want to leave. Many treaties were proposed, signed and then broken. This lasted till the 1860 s when the Cheyenne s faced their biggest problem. The United States army; the Americans struck the Cheyenne at Sand Creek. There were more than 350 deaths at this battle. Not only did they kill the Cheyenne but also they mutilated them after they had killed them by cutting off their heads and many other body parts. It was one of the biggest losses for Indians in histow and it was only the beginning of deaths for many other Indian tribes to come.

Another group that had faced such problems was the Sioux Indian. The Sioux Indians suffered most of the same fates that the Cheyenne 5 had suffered also. They had the same problems with the treaties. settlers and With the United States, Then in the 1860 s the United States army had moved in and they were looking to take the land from the Indians. The Sioux a band of Cheyenne and a group of Arapahos to fight off the United States soldiers. They attacked at Fort Phil Kearny using decoys to set up a trap. This technique had worked very well and it wound up being a huge victory for the Indians, The United States did not accept this well. They put the fort under new leadership and changed everything, The Sioux waited out the winter due to the harsh weather and once again spoke with the Cheyenne and Arapaho on anotherjoint attack. They could not come to an agreement on this and they wound up attacking separate forts.

The Sioux went to Fort CF. Smith and the Cheyenne and Arapahos went to Fort Phil Kearny. The Sioux and the Cheyenne and Arapahos both attacked the forts. This time was different though because the American troops had new weapons. They had new repeating rifles, which shot about ten times faster than the older ones. Neither group had success even after using the decoy technique. Even though they had no success the forts were both abandoned and the Indians had celebrated. This was a great Victow for the Indians but in the mid 1870 s the Sioux once again sided With the Cheyenne and fought against the Blue Coats and General Custer. There were many deaths in this battle and it was one to the greatest victories for the Indians. It was also a great loss for the Sioux though in losing Crazy Horse. their chief. The Sioux though they did no lose the fight they eventually were put into reservations like the rest of the Indians.

They were one of the few groups not to lose large amounts of people and they held themselves together very well. The Nez Perce was a friend of the United States for seventy years before they had a problem with the United States. They were on of the few groups that said that they didn t kill any whites. This all changed one night after the United States warned them to move out in 30 days or they would be massacred. ON this night a band of warriors sneaked out of their camp and killed eleven soldiers. Chief Joseph Wished that this had never happened, He said that he would have given his life rater than this happening, The troops staked their camp out and watched over it till the next morning. They drank to keep worm that night and by the morning most were still drunk. If it had not been for this that many of the Nez Perce may not have sun/ived. The troops fired shots in every direction, They killed many of Indians but they also wound up killing many of their own people. This led for a somewhat easy escape for Chief Joseph and his tribe. Their plan was to escape to the Canadian border.

They had made it most of the way until there as a barricade that didn 1 allow them to cross into Canada. After days of trying to make the Nez Perce stop traveling they got away from the Blue Coats and kept up on their way, They achieved this by setting up a diversion. They sent the nonrwarriors on their way and kept the warriors behind to fight. This bought time for the non-warriors and made it possmle for the diversion to work. After days and days of fighting Chief Joseph finally gave up and surrendered his gun to General Miles, It was the end of the Nez Perce 5 changes. They were taken to Fort Leavenworth as their reservation. On the way there some of the Indians had slipped away and fled to Canada where they met up With Sitting Bull and the Sioux tribe. Chief Joseph died about twenty years later doctors that word at the fort said that he died of a broken heart.

The Indians were being confined to crowed resen/ations that were poorly run had a scarce game, alcohol was plentiful, the soil was poor and the ancient religious practices were prohibited.  The Indians were not happy that they had been kicked off their land and were now forced to live on a reservation. The Indians then began to Ghost Dance a form of religion it is said that if the Indians were to do this trance like dance the country would be cleansed of white intruders. Also deadancestors and slaughtered buffalo would return and the old ways would be reborn in a fruitful land, Once the Bureau of Indian affairs noticed what was going on they began to fear this new religion would lead to warfare. The white peoplewere scared that this new dance was a war dance. They called for army protection. Army was called in to try to curb this new religion before it could start a war.

The Sioux band tougher led by Little Big Foot. They were heading to Pine RidgeReservation in South Dakota, when the army stopped them and held them at gun pomtovernight. Big Foot s group contained about 300 people two-thirds of them were women and children. While the soldiers. around 500 and were armed With automatic weapons. The next morning when the army began to disarm the Indians a shot rang out then the gunfire began leaving about 200 Indians dead in the snow. Thirty soldiers were also killed in the massacre. Their own soliders through friendly fire most likely killed the soldiers that lost their lives, Wounded Knee is said to have been the last battle of the war but it was not so much a battle as it was a massacre. It was in fact the last exchange of fire between the army and the SIOLIX. There are not many positive things that came out of the war.

Only that the war was finally over and the blood shed could stop. Some negative things are that in this battle most of the casualties were unarmed women and children. Another negative thing is that this battle was over a religion. The right to practice a religion is a fundamental right given to all people by the constitution of the Untied sates. The importance of the title Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee was that when Crazy Horse the leader of the Sioux went to meet with Blue Coat generals he was taken as a prisoner. He was then murdered, The Blue Coat generals then put him in a wooden box and gave him back to his parents, which took his bones and heart to Wounded Knee and buried them there. That is how Dee Brown had named this book and that is why it is important. James Carleton detested Indians as much as any of the villains in this book, his method was to kill or capture as many Indians as he could. His motivation was gold and he was certain that there was plenty of it to be found on Indian land. Any Indians that surVived his attacks would be sent to a reservation named Bosque Redondo along the Pecos.

When he first arrived in New Mexico he set his sights immediately on the Mescalero Apaches. In September of 1862, his orders were clear to kill all of the men and take the women and children prisoners. In the fall of 1862 5 Mescalero Chiefs made the journey to Santa Fe to talk of peace with the Star Chief Carleton. only three made it alive. the other two had been ambushed and killed, They begged Carleton to allow them to stay on their land in peace, Carleton feeling no remorse for these people gave them one option: go to Bosque Redondo or be hunted down and killed. Then in the spring of 1863. most Mescaleros had escaped to Mexico or been taken to the Bosque Redondo. Carleton immediately began his plans for Navaho transfer to the Bosque Redondo. June 23, Carleton set a deadline for when all Navayo should arrive at the Bosgue, July 20 was that day; it came and went without the arrival of any Navaho.

By this time, Kit Carson was on his side and knewiust what had to be done to bring in the Navajo. Beginning July 25. he would burn their land and destroy their livestock and crops. On August 18, Carleton decided to place a bounty in order to hurry this process of destruction. Men were to be rewarded $20 for every usable mule or horse and $1 per sheep head delivered to the commissary at Fort Canby. In September, Carleton decided that Carson’s path of destruction wasn‘t movmg along at a quick enough pace. Therefore, he ordered that every Navaho male be killed or taken prisoner on sight. On October 17, two Navaho arrived at Fort Wingate under a truce flag. There they pleaded with Carleton to allow them to build camp near Fort Wingate peacefully. where they could be under constant watch by the soldiers, instead of going to the Bosque. This offer was sent to Carleton in Santa Fe and as always he refused telling them they had no other choice but to go to the Bosque Redondo or the war would continue. Finally Delgadito surrendered and brought his Navaho followers to the Bosque.

Carleton had purposefully arranged for conditions to be very good in the beginning for the first arrivals This way he could send Delgadito off With only good things to say about the Bosque, convincing others to go to the Bosque. These conditions didn‘t last for very long as Carson continued his destruction rampage and rounded up more and more Navahos. In the fall of 1864, many Navaho were successfully escaping the Bosque. They returned to their homes With horrifying stories about the unlivable conditions at the Bosque. Soldiers would promise them clothing, blankets. and food but these empty promises were never carried out All the cottonwood and mesquite was cut down, so only roots remained for firewood. There was barely any growth on this barren land and to escape the rain and sun, they had to dig holes in the hard ground, cover them With mats of grass.

The Indians would attempt to plant crops With the limited tools they had been given, but floods, droughts and insects killed the crops every time without fail. Disease soon began to spread saving the weak from their misery. This went on for 4 years until 1 year after the CiVII War: General Carleton was gone for good, back to the United States. Only then could the government make any real efforts towards peace with the Apaches. It was unfortunately too late for the Navahos. there were barely any left, In the winter of 186771868, General Philip Sheridan was assigned to order the soldiers in Kansas. Sheridan organized a company of scouts to search for Indian camps and he planned to wait until snow began to fall Then send Custer after the Cheyenne to destroy their Villages, even though most of the Indians had been following their treaty obligations. In November of 1868, Black Kettle a Cheyenne chief and Little Robe heard rumors of Sheridan’s approaching bluecoats.

They requested to move their lodges near Fort Cobb for protection, but he refused. On November 26, Black Kettle called a meeting in which he told his people that he planned to meet the soldiers to convince them that his Cheyenne village was peaceful. The soldiers began to arrive on the dawn of November 27. He immediately awoke the village and told his people to flee, He wanted to meet the soldiers alone at the Washita ford. Black Kettle expected the soldiers to arrive across the Washita ford, but instead they were coming in from four different directionsi How could he negotiate with four different flanks at one time? He saw no other option but to take hold of his Wife and flee as well. As he came into view of some of the soldiers and raised his hand to signal peace, he and his Wife were shot off their horse and killed. Sheridan’s orders to Custer regarding this slaughter showed no sign of wanting to make peace.

The troops found it difficult to separate the men from the women and children in order to kill them, They found it much easier to Just kill everyone. 103 Cheyenne were killed that day, only 11 were warriors. 53 women and children were captured. After this battle, Sheridan planned a parade to celebrate, Marching in this paraded were soldiers wavmg around the scalps of Black Kettle and many other dead Indians. In his official report, he lied and said that he had offered sanctuary to Black Kettle who refused, and was killed in the flight. After Sherman gave Sheridan his approval of the way Sheridan had handling things, he urged him to kill more Indians, Although, it was he who told Sheridan to begin placing friendly Indians in reservations Where they could be exposed to the white man‘s ‘ciVilized’ culture. In response to this, Sheridan moved to Fort Cobb. He then sent out four runners upon his arrival to the four tribes in the area warning them to make peace or be killed.

In late December survivors of Black Kettle’s band began arrivrng in Fort Cobb, They came on foot because all their horses had been killed. Little Robe was now the tribe’s leader. He told Sheridan that his people were starvmg and there were no buffalo to be found along the Washita. Custer had burned their winter meat supply, and they had eaten all their dogs. Little Robe eventually surrendered and brought his followers to Fort Cobb, Yellow Bear of the Arapahos did the same. When he arrived with his people he told Sheridan that he was a ‘good lndian.‘ Sheridan’s reply was: “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” In December 1868. General Sheridan commanded all Cheyenne. Arapahos, Kyowa, and Comaches to surrender and go to Fort Cobb, or face extinction. The Cheyenne. Arapahos, and Comaches came. but the Kiowa did not seeing no reason to go. not knowing What Sheridan was capable of.

When Sheridan‘s men rode in and captured the Kiowa chiefs Lone wolf and Satanta, their followers soon came too after Sheridan threatened to hang their chiefs, Sheridan then took Satanta and Lone Wolf to Fort Sill where he released them from arrest and proceeded in scolding them. Satanta’s response was one of agreement. Satanta was ready to cooperate With the white men. The Kiowa and Comanches had been able to form a farming community on the reservation in Texas. Although, when white men seized their farmland they were forced to hunt buffalo. Then they were told to go back to farming, but they couldn’t because the whites always took it. Hunting buffalo was difficult also because Sheridan was having them all killed in order to starve the Indians. From 1872-1874. 3.700.000 buffalo were killed; Indians had killed only 150,000. If Sherman had never told Sheridan to put Indians on resen/ations he would have gone on killing them for as long as he could.

His harsh ways and blatant hatred of the whole race forced him to lash out on them like no other, He killed and tortured thousands of Indians in his time. preventing any possibility of peace between whites and Indians under his control. Kit Carson was very different from the other two men listed above. He had started out as avery good friend to the Indians. He had lived with Indians for weeks and months at a time and had a child with an Arapaho woman. Things began to change after he married Josefa. the daughter of Don Francisco Jaramillo of Taos. He grew prosperous and obtained land for a ranch in New Mexico. He learned to read and write a bit and became famous among many.

He greatly admired the smart sharp dressing men at the top. In the summer of 1863, he set his sights on the biggest man at the top, General Carleton. He Joined the army and went to Fort Wingate to fight the Navaho alongside Carleton. He gave no thought to betraying his Indian friends and seemed to never look back in his fight against the Indians. Carson led a thousand soldiers to Pueblo Colorado and hired some of his old friends, the Utes to track down the Navaho. Since he had had such good relations With Indians in the past. he knew that the only Way to conquer these people was to destroy their crops and livestock and burn their land. On July 25. he sent Major Joseph Cummings to retrieve all the livestock that he could find, and harvest or burn all the corn and wheat along the Bonito. When the Navaho found out what Cummings was up to, he was shot and killed.

They also raided Carson’s corral near Fort Canby stealing back some sheep and goats. and stealing KII’S favorite horse. When Carleton complained to Carson that he was mDVIng too slowly in destroying Indian [and he was forced to move faster. Carson had destroyed most of the herds and grain between Fort Canby and Canyon de Chelly and on October 17: El Sordo arrived at Fort Wingate to plead his case. After Carleton sent Delgadito to fetch more Navaho to go to the Bosque Redondo. he sent Carson at the same time into Canyon de Chelly to destroy more Navaho food and livestock and Navaho warriors attacked them and took the mules to be used for food.

The Navahos minded up. were able to escape With the aid of a large snowstorm, Carleton forced his men to go on foot to avoid delay. Kit Carson departed With a large group entering the Canyon de Chelly. The only weapons the Navahos had to fend off their attackers were sticks and stones. The canyon had been taken Without a real fight. That night three Navaho came into Carson’s camp under a truce flag. They told Carson that their people were starving and freezing, They wanted to surrender, rather than die, The next morning sixty Navaho arrived at Fort Canby. Carson then ordered that all Navaho property in Ihe canyon destroyed. By turning against his Indian friends and taking part in the genocide of the Indian nation. Kit Carson was a livtng proof of awellrlearned rule among Indians. No White man is ever to be trusted. Carson’s betrayal left a scar in the peace process between Indians and whites for years to come.

Cite this page

Destruction of American Indians in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. (2023, Apr 08). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7