Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Dee Brown 1970

Author Biography
Plot Summary
Key Figures
Historical Context
Critical Overview
Further Reading


Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was first published in the United States in 1970. This landmark book—which incorporated a number of eyewitness accounts and official records—offered a scathing indictment of the U.S. politicians, soldiers, and citizens who colonized the American West. Focusing mainly on the thirty-year span from 1860 to 1890, the book was the first account of the time period told from the Native-American point of view. It demonstrated that whites instigated the great majority of the conflicts between Native Americans and themselves. Brown began searching for the facts about Native Americans after he met several as a child and had a hard time believing the myths about their savagery that were popular among white people. Brown published his book a century after the events took place, but it was a timely publication, since many U.S. citizens were already feeling guilty about their country's involvement in the Vietnam War. Brown's book depicted, in detail, the U.S. government's attempt to acquire Native Americans' land by using a mix of threats, deception, and murder. In addition, the book showed the attempts to crush Native-American beliefs and practices. These acts were justified by the theory of Manifest Destiny, which stated that European descendents acting for the U.S. government had a God-given right to take land from the Native Americans. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Brown's best-known work and has since overshadowed all of his other books.

Author Biography

Dee Brown was born on February 28, 1908, in Alberta, Louisiana. He grew up in Arkansas, where he met many Native Americans. He found it hard to believe the myths of Native-American savagery and read everything he could find about the real history of the American West. Since he was pursuing a career as a librarian at the same time, he frequently had access to the materials he needed. At George Washington University, he studied library science and worked as a library assistant for the United States Department of Agriculture. After receiving his bachelor's degree in library science in 1937, Brown held his first librarian position, at the Beltsville Research Center (1940-1942).

In 1942, he published his first novel, Wave High the Banner, a historical novel based on the life and adventures of Davy Crockett, the legendary frontiersman. Over the next few decades, Brown wrote several more novels and nonfiction books about the American West and earned his master's degree from the University of Illinois (1952). He also worked as a librarian for the United States War Department and the University of Illinois, ultimately becoming a professor of library science at the university from 1962 to 1975.

However, despite all of these accomplishments, it was Brown's 1970 publication of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee that made him a household name. After that, Brown published several works, including a nonfiction book, Wondrous Times on the Frontier (1993); a collection of autobiographical writings, When the Century Was Young: A Writer's Notebook (1993); and a novel, The Way to Bright Star (1998). However, none of these works received the attention or praise of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which is still Brown's best-known work. Brown lives and works in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Plot Summary

Chapter 1: "Their Manners are Decorous and Praiseworthy"

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee begins with an overview of the relations between Native Americans and white settlers from the late-1400s to the mid-1800s. Initially peaceful, these relations become more tense as white emigration from Europe to the United States increases.

Chapter 2: The Long Walk of the Navahos

The government wants Navaho land for settlements and mining, so the U.S. Army kills or displaces all Mescalero Apaches and Navahos in the region. Many Navahos die when they are forced to live at the Bosque Redondo reservation. Ultimately, the Navahos sign a peace treaty and are allowed to return to what is left of their land.

Chapter 3: Little Crow's War

Manipulated by deceptive treaties, the Santee Sioux surrender most of their land for money and provisions they mostly do not receive. Little Crow does not want to fight the military might of the United States but has no choice when some of his men kill white settlers. The Santees are ultimately overpowered by the Army and by a Santee traitor.

Chapter 4: War Comes to the Cheyennes

White settlers ignore a treaty and begin settling on Native-American territory. After Cheyennes and Arapahos meet with the Colorado governor to try to maintain peace, many Cheyennes are mutilated or massacred in their Sand Creek village. The Cheyennes split, some going north to join the Northern Cheyennes and the Teton Sioux in Powder River country, while others go south, below the Arkansas River, where they are coerced into signing away their land in Colorado.

Chapter 5: Powder River Invasion

The Cheyennes learn that soldiers are building a fort in the Powder River country. A Cheyenne warrior tries to warn some Arapahos of coming soldiers, but they do not believe him, and their village is destroyed by one military column. A group of Sioux chase the half-starved, frozen soldiers of two other military columns and attempt to beat them in battle but are overpowered.

Chapter 6: Red Cloud's War

The government says it wants to buy transportation rights in the Powder River country, but it deploys soldiers even before a treaty is discussed. Angry at this deception, the Sioux fight a successful guerrilla war, cutting off the soldiers' supply lines, trapping soldiers in isolated battles, and derailing a train. Ultimately, the government withdraws its troops and settles for a peace treaty.

Chapter 7: "The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian"

Some of the exiled Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos, encouraged by the Sioux's successes, try to return to their old tribal lands. This action results in a war between the Army and several Native-American tribes, including the Cheyennes, the Arapahos, the Comanches, and the Kiowas. At the end of the fighting, all tribes except the Kiowas surrender and go to reservations.

Chapter 8: The Rise and Fall of Donehogawa

Red Cloud finds out that the peace treaty he signed included items he did not know about. Donehogawa, an educated Native American, is Commissioner of Indian Affairs at the time. He invites Red Cloud and several other Sioux to state their case to President Grant in Washington, D.C. Red Cloud is successful, but Donehogawa loses his influence due to political pressure and resigns.

Chapter 9: Cochise and the Apache Guerrillas

Several Apaches refuse to live on a reservation and instead they engage in a guerrilla war. Settlers massacre a peaceful band of Apaches at Camp Grant, prompting President Grant to send out a commission to talk to the Apache chiefs. After much fighting, most of the Apaches settle on reservations or live in exile in Mexico.

Chapter 10: The Ordeal of Captain Jack

The Modocs do not receive treaty provisions from the government and return to their old lands, the U.S. military comes to remove them, and Captain Jack takes his people to a stronghold. Hooker Jim's band kills some settlers in revenge then forces Captain Jack into killing General Canby, which instigates a war. Hooker Jim and his men surrender to the soldiers, then track down Captain Jack, who is hanged.

Chapter 11: The War to Save the Buffalo

The Kiowas are forced to go to a reservation. They resolve to leave the reservation to fight the white hunters who are destroying the buffalo but are overpowered. Some tribes choose to go back to the reservation, while others hunt buffalo at Palo Duro Canyon, the last remaining range. The Army destroys their village and forces the Kiowas to surrender.

Chapter 12: The War for the Black Hills

A force of several thousand Native Americans fights to save the sacred Black Hills. They win a major battle by destroying General Custer's army at the Little Bighorn, but the government uses the battle as justification for taking the Black Hills. They also send more troops to make most of the Native Americans surrender. Sitting Bull and some of his people escape to Canada.

Chapter 13: The Flight of the Nez Percés

The Nez Percés are told to give up their land and report to a reservation. Young Joseph advocates peace but is forced to fight when some of his men kill white settlers. The Nez Percés try to flee to Canada to join Sitting Bull, and some make it. However, after a surprise attack by the Army, most of Chief Joseph's people surrender and are sent to Indian Territory.

Chapter 14: Cheyenne Exodus

The Northern Cheyennes at Fort Robinson are transferred to Indian Territory, where many die. Some stay, while others attempt to return to their old lands. Soldiers chase the latter, killing several Cheyennes in the process. The Northern Cheyennes split again. Some are captured and sent back to Fort Robinson, where most are killed in an escape attempt. Others spend the winter in hiding, then surrender.

Chapter 15: Standing Bear Becomes a Person

The peaceful Poncas are sent to Indian Territory with other hostile Native-American tribes. Several die, including the son of Standing Bear, who tries to take the body to their old burial grounds. General Crook captures them but intervenes on their behalf, helping Standing Bear win a court case that gives him the right to stay on his land. Other Poncas try and fail to enforce this new right to return to their land.

Chapter 16: "The Utes Must Go!"

Through the skills of a chief, Ouray the Arrow, the Utes successfully retain one rich portion of their land as a reservation. A new agent, Nathan C. Meeker, tries to convert the Utes to his religion. His efforts instigate a battle between the Utes and the Army. The local government uses the incident as justification for taking the rest of the Ute land.

Chapter 17: The Last of the Apache Chiefs

Order breaks down following the departure of an agent who has established peace on the White Mountain reservation. Many Apaches leave the reservation and engage in raids. General Crook is sent to establish order. He gets Geronimo to surrender, but Geronimo leaves the reservation again when he thinks he is about to be arrested. Another general and several thousand men are enlisted to hunt down Geronimo and his twenty-four warriors. Geronimo surrenders.

Chapter 18: Dance of the Ghosts

The government lures Sitting Bull back to the United States under false promises of amnesty. Many Sioux agree to sell their land, under the threat of having it taken away from them by force. The religious Ghost Dance becomes the craze among Native Americans on reservations, and the government tries to suppress it. The government chooses to arrest Sitting Bull, who gets killed in the process.

Chapter 19: Wounded Knee

Following Sitting Bull's death at Standing Rock reservation, many Native Americans there attempt to flee to Red Cloud's Pine Ridge reservation. The Army intercepts them and attempts to disarm them. After a shot is fired, the armed soldiers open fire with heavy artillery on the mainly unarmed Native Americans, killing most of them.

Key Figures

Big Foot

Big Foot is a Minneconjou chief who surrenders his people when the military starts killing indiscriminately in revenge for the death of Custer. After he is identified as an instigator of the Ghost Dance, Big Foot tries to take his people to Red Cloud's Agency at Pine Ridge. The Army captures and tries to disarm them. In the process, a Minneconjou fires a shot and the military reacts, killing Big Foot and most of the Minneconjous.

Black Kettle

Black Kettle is a Cheyenne chief who goes to great lengths to keep peace with white people. He assures his people at Sand Creek that they have protection from the Army, who slaughters the village. He escapes, but is tricked once again at a later date, and dies while trying to make peace with the soldiers. General Sheridan lies about Black Kettle's death, saying that he was offered peace but chose to make war.

Captain Jack

Captain Jack is the chief of the Modocs; he tries to make peace with white people, even after some Modocs are killed. However, when Hooker Jim's band of Modocs kill some settlers, Captain Jack agrees not to turn them in. He kills General Canby under pressure from this band who then betrays Captain Jack by helping the Army find him. Captain Jack is hanged.


Cochise is an Apache chief who fights many battles with the American military, escapes capture on several occasions, and helps lead raids against white settlers. When American soldiers shoot his father-in-law, Mangas, Cochise rides to Mexico and forces a Mexican surgeon to save Mangas's life. Cochise is able to secure a reservation that encompasses part of the Apaches' land.

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse is a Sioux chief who refuses to live on a reservation. As a young man, Crazy Horse distinguishes himself in Red Cloud's War. He is one of the many chiefs who oppose selling the Black Hills to the government, and he helps lead several battles in this war, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in which General Custer is killed. When the military comes in overwhelming force to avenge Custer's death, Crazy Horse attempts to fight them, but ultimately he surrenders. When several of his people enlist with the military to help fight other Native Americans, Crazy Horse tries to take the rest of his people and return to his land. He is captured and is fatally stabbed while trying to escape. Crazy Horse's parents bury his heart and bones near Wounded Knee Creek.

General George Crook

General Crook leads several campaigns against the Apaches—who call him Gray Wolf—and the Plains Native Americans—who call him Three Stars. Over the course of a decade, Crook's cold attitude towards Native Americans changes to one of respect and sympathy. He helps the runaway Poncas win their freedom in court, uses diplomacy instead of force to get Geronimo to surrender, and condemns local newspapers for spreading lies about the Apaches. He resigns when the War Department does not recognize Crook's surrender terms with Geronimo. The government later dupes Crook into convincing the Sioux that the government will take their lands by force if the Sioux do not sell them.

General George Armstrong Custer

General Custer participates in several campaigns against the Plains Native Americans—who call him either Hard Backsides or Long Hair. Custer reports that the Black Hills are filled with gold, which attracts many gold seekers to the region. During the resulting War for the Black Hills, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors kill Custer and all of his men—the greatest defeat suffered by the United States Army in the conflicts with Native Americans. The government's massive retaliation for this defeat ultimately leads to the end of freedom for all Plains Native Americans.


Donehogawa, an Iroquois who takes the American name of Ely Samuel Parker, has an unusual amount of success in the world of white people. He learns English and goes to law school but is refused the right to take the bar exam. He becomes a civil engineer and serves with General Grant during the Civil War. When General Lee surrenders at Appomattox, Parker writes out the terms of surrender. When Grant is elected president, he makes Parker his Commissioner of Indian Affairs. However, a strong political group opposed to any Native American in government eventually harasses Parker until he resigns.

Dull Knife

Dull Knife is a Northern-Cheyenne chief who helps lead a number of battles. Following Custer's defeat at the Little Bighorn, the military attacks and destroys Dull Knife's village. The Northern Cheyennes are transferred to a Cheyenne reservation in Indian Territory, where many die from hunger and disease. Dull Knife and several Cheyennes seek sanctuary with Red Cloud but are captured. They escape, but only Dull Knife and a small band of Cheyennes make it to Red Cloud's agency, where they become prisoners.

Media Adaptations

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was adapted as an audio book in 1970 by Books on Tape.


Geronimo is an Apache chief who leads many raids into Mexico. When the government places soldiers near his reservation, Geronimo thinks he is in danger. He and others escape to their Mexican stronghold and build a small army. Geronimo surrenders to General Crook but leaves the reservation again when he hears rumors he is going to be arrested. The Army sends a force of several thousand against Geronimo's twenty-four men. Geronimo surrenders and is sent to prison in Florida. He dies on a reservation as a prisoner of war.

The Gray Wolf

See General George Crook

The Great Warrior Sherman

See General William T. Sherman

Hard Backsides

See General George Armstrong Custer

Kicking Bird

Kicking Bird is a Kiowa chief who refuses to engage in or support aggressive acts against the Army. Because of this allegiance, the government forces Kicking Bird to choose several Kiowas to answer for the tribe's part in their battles. Kicking Bird dies mysteriously after drinking a cup of coffee, two days after his life was threatened by a medicine man.

Little Crow

Little Crow is a chief of the Santee Sioux, who are repeatedly swindled out of their treaty provisions. Little Crow does not want to fight the powerful U.S. military, but he has no choice when some of the Santee Sioux young men kill settlers. The Santees win some battles but lose the war when their major ambush fails and when Little Crow is betrayed by another Santee. Little Crow is shot and killed by a white settler.

Little Wolf

Little Wolf is a Northern-Cheyenne chief who helps lead a number of battles. The Northern Cheyennes are transferred to a Cheyenne reservation in Indian Territory, where many die from hunger and disease. Little Wolf and several other Cheyennes flee north towards their old territory but surrender after spending a winter hiding from soldiers. Little Wolf is one of many Native Americans who is destroyed by alcohol.

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf is a Kiowa chief who arranges for the parole of Satanta and another chief. He argues with Kicking Bird's peaceful ways. Lone Wolf joins with the Comanches and participates in several battles with white soldiers and hunters, in an attempt to drive them out of the region and save the buffalo. When his son dies in one of these battles, Lone Wolf strengthens his resolve. Lone Wolf is one of the last Kiowas to surrender and is one of the people chosen by Kicking Bird to be imprisoned.

Long Hair

See General George Armstrong Custer


Manuelito is a Navaho chief who tries to maintain peace with the United States through treaties. However, after U.S. soldiers cheat during a friendly horse race—and shoot Navahos who try to protest—the Navahos go to war with the soldiers. Manuelito is the last chief to surrender. He and the others live in squalor for two years at the Bosque Redondo reservation, before the government allows them to return to a small portion of their old land.

Ouray the Arrow

Ouray is a Ute chief who is fluent in English. He uses these skills to retain a large chunk of Ute land. When a new agent comes to the White River Agency and attempts to convert Ouray and the Utes to his religion and ways of life, the agent instigates a battle. The government uses the incident as justification to take the Ute land.

Ely Samuel Parker

see Donehogawa

Red Cloud

Red Cloud is a Sioux chief who wins many battles against the U.S. government. He engages in a successful guerrilla war that causes the government to withdraw the Army from the region. When Red Cloud finds out later that the peace treaty he signed had unknown items in it, he successfully presents his case to President Grant and Donehogawa. He also wins over a crowd of New Yorkers with his impassioned speech about the false treaty. Ultimately, however, Red Cloud loses all that he has gained when he is forced to sign a treaty giving away his lands and move his people to a reservation.

Roman Nose

Roman Nose is a Southern-Cheyenne warrior. Although he is not a chief, he commands the allegiance of the Dog Soldier Society, a powerful group of Cheyenne warriors. He leads a successful attack against soldiers in the Powder River country and unifies the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos to fight for their own country. The government knows that Roman Nose is the key to a lasting peace in the area, but he refuses to attend a peace commission. Instead, he leads several raids against settlers and dies while fighting a small band of Army scouts.


Satanta is a Kiowa chief who is captured and imprisoned. Eventually, Lone Wolf arranges for his parole. Satanta and his warriors are unsuccessful in their fight to drive away the white buffalo hunters. Satanta is eventually given life in prison, where he commits suicide.

General Philip Sheridan

General Sheridan leads several campaigns against the Plains Native Americans. He lies about the massacre at Black Kettle's village, saying that he had offered the chief sanctuary. Sheridan makes a comment that in being quoted eventually evolves into the hate statement: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Sheridan believes that killing all of the buffalo is the best way to get Native Americans to adopt white culture.

General William T. Sherman

General Sherman, a Civil War hero known as the Great Warrior Sherman by most Native Americans, oversees American forces through many of the Native-American wars. He attends several peace commissions with various Native-American tribes. Following Custer's defeat, Sherman assumes military control of all reservations. After Standing Bear wins his court case and freedom, Sherman defies the new law by giving General Sheridan military authority to apprehend other Poncas.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull is the Sioux's most powerful chief, and on some occasions he commands allegiance from other Native-American tribes as well. He fights many battles with U.S. soldiers to preserve his freedom and the Sioux ownership of the Black Hills. He and Crazy Horse defeat Custer's forces at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. When the military comes in overwhelming force to avenge Custer's death, Sitting Bull and some of his followers move into Canada. However, he becomes a military prisoner after he returns to the United States under a false promise of amnesty. Many chiefs, newspaper reporters, and others come to visit him, and Sitting Bull soon becomes a celebrity. He even receives permission to go on tour around the country. The government incorrectly believes that Sitting Bull is responsible for the spread of the Ghost Dance and tries to arrest him. He is killed in the process by two Sioux policemen.

Standing Bear

Standing Bear is a Ponca chief. Standing Bear's people are tricked into being transferred to Indian Territory, where many of them die, including his last son. He and a group of Poncas are captured while trying to return to Poncas land to bury him. General Crook, two lawyers, and a sympathetic judge intervene, and Standing Bear successfully wins freedom for him and his escort party but not for the rest of his people.

Three Stars

See General George Crook

Young Joseph

Young Joseph, generally known as Chief Joseph, is a Nez-Percé chief. When miners pressure the government to move the Nez Percés to a reservation, Chief Joseph tries to go peacefully but resolves to fight after some of his warriors kill settlers. He leads his noted marksmen to several victories against superior forces, but the military ultimately overpowers him and he surrenders. He and most of the others are sent to Indian Territory, where he dies of a broken heart—according to the agency physician.


Manifest Destiny

Much of the mistreatment of Native Americans in the nineteenth century can be attributed to a concept known as Manifest Destiny. This theory stated that European descendents in the United States were destined to spread over the North American continent and that they were justified in doing so. As a result, many politicians, military personnel, and settlers felt it was their God-given right to take land from whoever stood in their way. As Brown notes, the concept of Manifest Destiny simply "lifted land hunger to a lofty plane." Says Brown: "Only the New Englanders, who had destroyed or driven out all their Indians, spoke against Manifest Destiny."


Manifest Destiny provided the justification for many deceptions, the most notable form of which was broken treaties. When white settlers first began their relations with Native-American tribes, they made treaties—paper contracts that ceded Native-American land to the United States, often in exchange for money or provisions. However, in many cases, the systems set in place to monitor these transactions became corrupted by white middlemen who profited at the Native Americans's expense. For example, Dee Brown states: "Of the $475,000 promised the Santees in their first treaty, Long Trader Sibley had claimed $145,000 for his American Fur Company as money due for overpayment to the Santees." In other cases, Native Americans were deceived into signing false treaties. Most Native Americans could not read or write English. As a result, they often had no way of verifying that the paper they signed included the correct terms of their agreement and were surprised when they found out later that the treaty included additional terms.

When the government could not get the desired land by diplomacy, it often ignored past treaties and took the land by force. For example, at one point, a number of Native-American tribes came to a council with U.S. commissioners to talk about building additional transportation routes through tribal lands. However, during this council, a regiment of Army infantry arrives, and the Native-American assembly realizes "that the United States government intended to open a road through the Powder River country regardless of the treaty." Brown reports that Red Cloud stated in the council: "Great Father sends us presents and wants new road. But White Chief goes with soldiers to steal road before Indian says yes or no!"

Topics for Further Study

  • On a current map of the United States, plot all of the existing Native-American reservations. For each one, include a brief description of when and how it was created, what tribes live there, and the population size at the time it was founded and at the time of the 2000 Census.
  • Research the various ways that Native-American language and culture have been incorporated into American language and culture since the 1860s. Find one area of the United States that has been particularly influenced by Native Americans, and write a short, modern-day profile of this region and its people.
  • Research the prehistory of the Americas, and discuss how Native Americans first came to North America. Imagine that you are one of these early Native Americans. Write a journal entry that describes your typical day in these prehistoric times, using your research to support your writing.
  • Research what life is like on a Native-American reservation today. Outline the current problems faced by Native Americans on reservations, research any potential courses of action that are being taken, and propose your own solutions to these problems.

In addition to treaty violations, Americans also made false promises, such as agreeing to keep the peace when they had no intention of doing so. One of the best examples of this deception is the massacre of Cheyennes at Sand Creek. Major Scott J. Anthony tells the Cheyennes that if they return to their village at Sand Creek, they will be safe. Anthony arranges it so that two additional men, known to be peaceful, go to the village, in an attempt to "lull the Indians into a sense of security and keep them camped where they were." In the meantime, Anthony receives reinforcements. His plan works, and the Cheyennes are totally unprepared when Anthony attacks and destroys the village with his large force.

Perhaps the worst deception is the betrayal of Native Americans by their own. For example, the Modoc known as Captain Jack refuses to turn in Hooker Jim and others who have murdered white settlers. In the end, however, these same men who he risked his life to save end up betraying him to save their own lives. Says Brown, "Hooker Jim's band surrendered to the soldiers and offered to help them track down Captain Jack in exchange for amnesty."


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is saturated with examples of indiscriminate and often premeditated killing. Many of the murderous acts become genocidal when they are performed by Army officers and others who are determined to kill all Native Americans. One of the most chilling examples of genocide happens at Sand Creek. Although a few officers disagree with Colonel Chivington's plan to murder all Native Americans at Sand Creek, Chivington threatens them with a court-martial if they do not join the expedition. Brown quotes Chivington as saying: "I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians." This attitude was shared by other Americans, particularly frontier settlers, some of whom engaged in or supported the murder of Native Americans wherever they were found.



The setting is extremely important in this book. The action takes place in the mid to late 1800s, when a large number of white settlers emigrated to the frontier American West seeking property, gold, or both. Some Native Americans moved to other areas, thinking that there was room enough for both races.

However, the land, which had been large enough to accommodate countless tribes, was quickly overrun by white settlers and military troops. Some, like Sitting Bull, tried to leave America for a new setting. Brown states: "He decided there was no longer room enough for white men and the Sioux to live together in the Great Father's country. He would take his people to Canada." The setting is also important for military strategy. Many battles in the book are determined by the location and terrain on which the battle is fought. Native Americans are often able to beat much larger forces because they know how to use the Western terrain to set effective ambushes, to hide, or to defend themselves.

Point of View

The book is written mainly in the third-person omniscient viewpoint. This broad viewpoint gives the author unlimited power to move through time and space and in and out of characters' minds as necessary. For example, Brown notes during the description of one battle that "Roman Nose was wearing his medicine bonnet and shield, and he knew that no bullets could strike him." Like many such descriptions in the book, Brown combines historical facts with his own assumptions about Roman Nose's thoughts and motivations to bring the historical figure to life. Interspersed with these descriptions, Brown also includes first-person, eyewitness accounts such as speeches, proclamations, and official records. For example, one Native American notes, "From a distance we saw the destruction of our village.… Our tepees were burned with everything in them.… I had nothing left but the clothing I had on." These intimate accounts—from both Native Americans and white people—lend credibility to Brown's descriptions, but they also help the reader to understand what it was like to be involved in this conflict.


Brown includes powerful and violent imagery in his book, which is to be expected in a book that details several wars. Though many cultures adhere to war rules that forbid certain actions, such as killing women and children or mutilating bodies, during the battles to win the West, U.S. soldiers engaged in certain acts, which were even then considered war crimes. For example, as Captain Nicholas Hodt notes of a spontaneous massacre of Navahos, he saw a soldier killing "two little children and a woman. I hallooed immediately to the soldier to stop. He looked up, but did not obey my order." Hodt orders the man to turn himself in as a prisoner but notes that even some of his superiors engage in the slaughter. Another eyewitness, Lieutenant James Connor, this time at Sand Creek, overheard "one man say that he had cut out a woman's private parts and had them for exhibition on a stick." These and countless other chilling images of mutilation, murder, and desecration help to underscore the great injustice and cruelty perpetrated upon Native Americans.

Historical Context

Vietnam and the My Lai Massacre

When Brown first published Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in 1970, the United States was engaged in an undeclared war in Vietnam, and the U.S. public was inclined to revisit the country's guilt over the past treatment of Native Americans. The parallels between the United States-sponsored massacre of Native Americans in the 1800s and the United States' actions in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 1970s were not lost on readers of Brown's book. This insight was especially available in 1970, when twenty-five U.S. Army officers and enlisted men were indicted for the 1968 massacre of hundreds of civilians in the South Vietnamese village of My Lai. Despite Army efforts to cover up the incident, a few concerned soldiers who were either at or near My Lai helped bring it to light, and the story was quickly picked up by the national media. Only a few men were actually tried for their part in the massacre, and only one—Lieutenant William Calley—was found guilty. Calley was sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor. However, three years later, President Nixon intervened and secured Calley's parole. Shortly after this incident, polls indicated that, for the first time since the war began, a majority of Americans opposed the United States involvement in Vietnam.

American Indian Movement (AIM)

At the same time, Native Americans in both Canada and the United States began to organize and protest in many isolated regional events. In 1968, four men established the American Indian Movement (AIM). The group wanted to host a demonstration to help promote Native-American issues and at the same time help to unify the various separate Native-American groups. In 1969, AIM received its opportunity. Following a convention in San Francisco to discuss Native-American issues, the Indian Center that was hosting the convention caught fire and burned to the ground. Realizing that there were no government funds to build a new Indian Center, a group of Native Americans, supported by AIM and calling themselves the Indians of All Tribes, seized Alcatraz, the famous island-based prison that had lain empty since 1964. Citing treaty rights that stated Native American rights to surplus government land, the group demanded that the government let its members turn the defunct prison into a cultural-educational center. Individuals occupied Alcatraz peacefully for twenty months until they were removed by federal marshals. With nationally recognized protests like the one staged on Alcatraz, AIM became more visible.

Critical Overview

Brown's 1970 publication of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee marked the first time a white author had written a book about the colonization of the American West from the point of view of Native Americans. As a result of this unique perspective, the book was received very well by critics and popular readers, who made it a best-seller. In her 1971 review of the book for the New Statesman, Helen McNeil notes that "the new perspective is startling." McNeil also says that one of the most powerful aspects of this "Indian historical viewpoint lies in its contrast to the vulgarity of the 'Turner thesis."' McNeil is referring to Frederick Jackson Turner's 1893 proclamation, which claimed that it was the settling of the frontier lands that gave modern Americans their distinct character, because they had to work hard in the new, unfamiliar land. As McNeil notes, Turner's thesis considered the frontier to be "empty land" and did not take into account the Native Americans who were killed or displaced. McNeil compares this type of imperialistic thinking to that found in the Nixon White House; she states that Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee— which was published at the height of the Vietnam War—is very timely. Says McNeil:

Now that Vietnam has brought the United States to the point of accepting national guilt for the first time, this scholarly and passionate chronicle … has attained US bestsellerdom by fixing the image of the nation's greatest collective wrong: the extermination of the American Indian.

Other critics notice the similarities to the situation in Vietnam. In his 1971 review for the New York Times Book Review, N. Scott Momaday, a prominent Native-American author, refers to the American "morality which informs and fuses events so far apart in time and space as the massacres at Wounded Knee and My Lai." Momaday also praises the book as "a story, a whole narrative of singular integrity and precise continuity; that is what makes the book so hard to put aside, even when one has come to the end."

A decade later, upon the publication of Brown's Native-American novel Creek Mary's Blood (1980), some critics used the opportunity to discuss how they liked it much less than Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Says Joshua Gilder, in his review of the novel for New York Magazine: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee "had a sweep and an authenticity due in large measure to his letting the Indians speak for themselves." Gilder finds this quality missing in Creek Mary's Blood. Likewise, in her 1980 review of the novel, Leslie Marmon Silko, another prominent Native-American author, notes that Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was brought alive through "the strength and conviction of Dee Brown's view of this history."

Compare & Contrast

  • 1860-1890: U.S. soldiers engage in several wars in the American West, in an attempt to acquire the lands of the Western frontier from the Native Americans who live there.

    Late 1960s—Early 1970s: U.S. soldiers engage in an undeclared war in Vietnam, purportedly in an attempt to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.

    Today: An increasing number of U.S. soldiers occupy several parts of the globe, as part of the U.S. war on terrorism.

  • 1860-1890: The United States government attempts to destroy Native-American culture.

    Late 1960s—Early 1970s: The American counterculture movement rebels against the ways of the wealthy corporate establishment, and many hippies dress like Native Americans and adopt their close-to-nature ways of life.

    Today: On September 11, 2001, terrorists destroy one of the most prominent symbols of U.S. wealth and international power—the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

  • 1860-1890: The plight of Native Americans is rarely represented accurately in U.S. newspapers and books. In addition, many Native Americans cannot write in English, and so they are generally unable to inform the white public of the injustices they face.

    Late 1960s—Early 1970s: N. Scott Momaday, a Native-American author, wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1969 for his novel House Made of Dawn. The novel depicts the difficulties Native Americans face when trying to fit in among other Americans, and it helps to spark an increase in writing by and about Native Americans.

    Today: Many Native-American authors, such as Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, and Leslie Marmon Silko, have earned critical and popular success with works that depict the plight of contemporary Native Americans.

Not all critics compare Brown's later novels with Bury My Heart on Wounded Knee. In his review of Killdeer Mountain (1983) in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, John Rechy acknowledges Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as "a moving, resonant book." However, Rechy says that one must also "ignore the expectations aroused by" this book, when critiquing Brown's later works. Rechy is the rare critic that does this. Even today, Brown's reputation rests primarily on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, even though he has also written many novels and children's books.


Ryan D. Poquette

Poquette has a bachelor's degree in English and specializes in writing about literature. In the following essay, Poquette discusses the techniques that Brown uses in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee to make his readers see through the common misconceptions about Native Americans.

In Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown relies on many harrowing eyewitness accounts from Native Americans, letting them tell their side of how the West was won. Several reviewers consider these eyewitness accounts the most important part of the book. For example, in her New Statesman review, Helen McNeil says that the book "awakens a more authentic sense of … grandeur with the moving speeches of the great chiefs." In fact, Brown's later Native-American books that do not include these eyewitness accounts have often been panned because Brown does the talking. For example, in his New York Magazine review of Brown's Native-American novel Creek Mary's Blood (1980), Joshua Gilder says it lacks the "sweep and … authenticity" of Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which was "due in large measure to his letting the Indians speak for themselves."

Despite the popularity of the eyewitness accounts, Brown is not an absentee narrator. Like one of the military leaders in the book, Brown serves as a general, deploying his two main forces—the techniques of language and plot—in a calculated manner to give the eyewitness accounts as much impact as possible. In the process, he attempts to defeat his enemy: the misconceptions and falsehoods that have plagued Native-Americans and their reputation among non-Natives.

Brown's first weapon is language. His book differs from previous books about Native Americans in this time period, because he uses many Native-American interpretations. For example, the Sioux and Cheyennes frequently see trains pass through their land in the Powder River country. Says Brown: "Sometimes they saw Iron Horses dragging wooden houses on wheels at great speed along the tracks. They puzzled over what could be inside the houses." Brown uses the terms "Iron Horses" and "wooden houses" to describe trains and train cars as a Native-American at this time would have perceived them. Brown also uses the Native-American designations for U.S. military ranks in his descriptions. For example, to a Native American at this time, a general was known as a "Star Chief" and a colonel was an "Eagle Chief."

In addition, Brown refers to prominent American historical figures by their Native-American names. For example, many Native Americans called General George Armstrong Custer "Hard Backsides," "because he chased them over long distances for many hours without leaving his saddle." Brown also uses Native-American naming systems for natural processes like time. White people divide the year into twelve months and refer to these time periods by cryptic names like May and June. However, Native Americans referred to these time periods by their actual, perceivable correlation to nature. So, in Brown's book, May is "the Moon When the Ponies Shed" and June is "the Strawberry Moon." By using distinctly Native-American interpretations like these in his narration, Brown takes his readers deep into the Native-American experience. In the process, the reader begins to identify with the Native Americans.

When readers identify with characters, they tend to feel sympathy for them. Through his second weapon, plot, Brown organizes his story to maximize his readers' sympathetic emotions. With any historical book, the author has to make choices about what events to include and how to organize them. As McNeil notes, Brown does not choose to make many distinctions among the various tribes: "One isn't reminded that the Navahoes were settled, the Apaches predatory, the Poncas gentle or the Utes lazy, since in any case the same fate awaited them all." Brown establishes a three-part structure for most chapters, which demonstrates again and again that Native Americans lost no matter what they did. Typically, the chapter begins with a discussion of a chief or tribe who has lost something—generally a piece of their land—and still has more to lose. For example, in the beginning of the second chapter, Brown notes: "As the result of two deceptive treaties, the woodland Sioux surrendered nine-tenths of their land and were crowded into a narrow strip of territory along the Minnesota River."

What Do I Read Next?

Following the discussion of what has been already lost, Brown introduces the second part of his three-part structure, the struggle. For Native Americans in the nineteenth century, the struggles were many, whether they decided to go to war or did not. Many tribes in the book do choose to fight to retain their remaining land and freedom. In most cases, the tribes win some battles but end up losing the war. The U.S. soldiers are too advanced and numerous to be defeated, something that the Native Americans begin to realize. For example, Little Crow is leery about fighting at first, because "he had been to the East and seen the power of the Americans. They were everywhere like locusts and destroyed their enemies with great thundering cannon." Even when the Native Americans outnumber the whites, the latter's military technology can be the decisive factor in the victory. As many Native Americans learn: "Bravery, numbers, massive charges—they all meant nothing if the warriors were armed only with bows, lances, clubs, and old trade guns of the fur-trapper days."

  • Brown's sixth novel, Creek Mary's Blood (1980), takes place in the nineteenth century during the westward expansion that pushed Native Americans off most of their land. The story combines historical and fictional elements in order to tell the various stories of Creek Mary and her family as they constantly move westward.
  • In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations (1992), by Jerry Mander, examines the effects that increasing technology has had on society and advocates a return to a Native-American way of life. In addition, Mander discusses how some Native Americans who try to maintain their way of life in modern times have clashed with the corporate world.
  • Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492-1992 (2 volumes, 1978-1988), edited by Peter Nabokov, also gives the Native-American side of the colonization story. Like Brown's work, this book relies on original documents and stories from Native Americans. However, this book takes a longer view, examining the entire five-hundred-year history of colonization.
  • Native-American storytelling has a long history, rooted in oral tradition. In Coming to Light: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America (1996), published by Vintage Books, editor Brian Swann assembles many of these oral stories, songs, prayers, and orations, which collectively represent more than thirty Native-American cultures. Each of the pieces in this anthology is accompanied by an introduction from the translator, which explains the meaning behind the selection, as well as how it was spoken or sung in its time.

In cases where the Native Americans try to remain peaceful, Brown shows many ways that they are provoked into war. In several cases, settlers or miners hungry for the Native Americans' remaining land spread incriminating lies in an effort to get the government to take their land. During the Civil War, Native Americans were sometimes provoked into fighting because it was the safer of two options for white, male citizens. Says Brown about the Cheyenne wars in Colorado: "There was political pressure on Evans from Coloradans who wanted to avoid the military draft of 1864 by serving in uniform against a few poorly armed Indians rather than against the Confederates farther east." Even after the Civil War, when the draft was no longer an issue, some settlers used lies to provoke Native Americans and and kill them because peace was not profitable for the settlers. Brown notes that Tucson citizens in 1871 "were opposed to agencies where Apaches worked for a living and were peaceful; such conditions led to reductions in military forces and a slackening of war prosperity."

The final part of Brown's three-part plot structure in most chapters is the bitter ending. Due to the massive struggles that Native Americans faced whether or not they chose to remain peaceful, most chapters end badly. The chiefs, who are often depicted as strong in the beginning and middle of the chapters when they are fighting for their land and people, end up dead, in prison, in exile, or on a reservation with the rest of their people. Even the exceptions to this rule, such as the chapter depicting Red Cloud's successful war, ultimately end negatively. In a later chapter, Red Cloud is forced to sign away his beloved Powder River country and live on a reservation. Red Cloud's plight highlights the overall plot structure of the book, which mimics the three-part structure of the individual chapters. The book starts out with many Native Americans living free and retaining parcels of their land. As the story progresses and the trickle of white emigration turns into a flood, ever-larger armies and groups of land-hungry white settlers cut down the various tribes. By the end of the book, the noose of white emigration has tightened around so much of the country that most Native Americans are dead, in prison, or on scattered reservations.

The effect on the reader is profound. Brown has gotten his readers to root for the underdogs by using eyewitness accounts and language to draw readers into the Native-American experience. Yet, in each chapter Brown steadily crushes any hope that the reader might have for the Native Americans winning much of anything. By using these strategies, Brown makes his readers more receptive to the most important aspect of his book—his anger. Brown's tone, or attitude towards his subject matter, is one of barely restrained outrage, and he wants readers to get angry, too. To this end, he fills his book with sarcastic and scathing comments that further underline the savagery of whites in the late nineteenth century. For example, at the end of one chapter, Brown describes how three major Cheyenne leaders were killed, and in the process he mimics the infamous saying: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Says Brown: "Roman Nose was dead; Black Kettle was dead; Tall Bull was dead. Now they were all good Indians."


Ryan D. Poquette, Critical Essay on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, in Nonfiction Classics for Students, Gale, 2003.

Douglas Dupler

Dupler has published numerous essays and has taught college English. In this essay, Dupler examines the effectiveness of the technique used by an historian to record an alternative history of North America.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, written by the eminent historian Dee Brown, is an epic history of the invasion of Native America by the white Europeans. Many histories that deal with this time period are written from the point of view of the white conquerors and tend to ignore or de-emphasize the violence and deceit perpetrated by the United States government and the European settlers upon Native America. Brown shows that the "westward expansion" of white history was much more complicated when viewed from another angle. Brown's powerful history is told from the point of view of the victims of the invasion themselves. In his history, he tells the compelling and heartrending story of the Native Americans beset by a vastly more powerful enemy, and shows their attempts to heroically defend themselves against their tragic fate. Using an array of sources and quoting from the Native Americans of that era, Brown's history is a graphic account of the broken treaties and the genocide that the United States government and its citizens inflicted upon the indigenous peoples of the continental United States.

"Brown has gotten his readers to root for the underdogs by using eyewitness accounts and language to draw readers into the Native- American experience. Yet, in each chapter Brown steadily crushes any hope that the reader might have for the Native Americans winning much of anything."

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide describes genocide as actions done with the intention of destroying a particular group of people. The convention declares that genocide is a crime whether committed during war or peacetime. It bans killing or causing serious injury, either mental or physical, to an individual because of his or her group identity. It bans destroying a people's means of survival. It bans taking children away from a people and giving them into the care of people of another group. In Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Brown demonstrates, in retrospect, that the United States government, in its relationship with the Native Americans, committed these acts. Using old records as well as the words of Native Americans, Brown recounts in detail how the United States military, often aided by white civilians, repeatedly attacked peaceful Native-American camps without provocation. Native Americans were often shot and killed by soldiers as well as civilians because of their racial identity. These murderous deeds were often justified by such sayings as, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." At the time, the term "genocide" was not used. That seems to be a point that Brown is making in his history; the conquerors, acting with such simple and shallow directives, were able to perpetrate deeds that their own value systems deemed immoral and unlawful.

Brown's technique is so effective because it takes the common history of events and brings it to life. Brown is a conventional historian when he recounts the timeline of history on the North American continent, beginning with the Arawak, the natives of San Salvador where Columbus had first landed. He goes on to show the conquest of the entire continental United States, stretching from the East Coast, where the English first landed in 1607, to the West Coast where gold was discovered in California in 1848. Brown also utilizes novelistic technique in his history, which adds a powerful dimension. Drawing on a broad array of sources, he brings his history and the individual characters involved alive with this writing technique. This history uses dialogue to give characters in the struggle real voices, from both sides of the conflict, as well as photographs of many of the Native-American warriors who tried to help their people survive the white onslaught. Brown even includes old Indian songs. The Native Americans are seen to have been real people, happy with their way of life, and even willing to share the bounty of their land. Bringing history to the personal level, Brown's book gives a different and disturbing view of the discovery and conquest of North America. For instance, Mangas Colorado of the Apaches, Big Snake of the Poncas, Crazy Horse of the Lakota Sioux, and many others were all murdered while in the custody of the United States Army. The reader feels these tragic deaths when the human voices and faces are included vividly in the text.

By so intricately researching and assembling his history, Brown is able to show how the forces of cultural imperialism were so devastating, and brings the individuals and tragedy in this history alive for the reader. There are white conquerors and Native-American resistors in this history. The complexities of the history are also revealed when Brown shows sympathetic whites and honest settlers, as well as Native-American mercenaries who helped to devastate their own people. Brown's history also shows the insidious nature of the violence. The aggressive soldiers are displayed as men taking orders from a distant political bureaucracy, carrying out impersonal directives that become extremely violent on the ground level. Brown shows how the whites justified to themselves their broken treaties, their wanton killings, and their destruction of a culture as they followed the policy of Manifest Destiny, the belief that God had given them the rights to the land.

Brown's history connects the relationship between cultural imperialism and religious and economic beliefs. The European settlers believed that the Native-American religions were not valid. The government often gave Native-American leaders the choice between accepting the European religion and way of life, or perishing. Brown reveals that many Native-American chiefs were aware of this choice, and heroically chose death before the destruction of their cherished beliefs. Thus, Brown makes the reader aware of the tragic loss of an entire culture, tragic because its people defended it valiantly.

"By so intricately researching and assembling his history, Brown is able to show how the forces of cultural imperialism were so devastating, and brings the individuals and tragedy in this history alive for the reader."

Brown gives many instances of how the Native Americans and their culture were continually reviled. The whites in this history, with deeply imbedded racism, saw the Native Americans as savages who did not deserve civilized treatment. In spite of Judge Dundy's legal decision in 1879, they were not considered persons under the law. A main thrust of Brown's history is the contention that the United States government and its citizens justified their genocide by falsely declaring that the Native Americans and their various cultures were inferior to their own. This was so strongly ingrained within the white culture that any white person who dared to be friendly to the Native Americans was called an "Indian lover" and was usually met with great disfavor, often of a violent nature, from the rest of the white populace. When Brown uses quotes by Native-American leaders speaking in English, it reveals the eloquence and intelligence of the human beings on the losing side of the war.

The ordinary white settler, from Brown's point of view, seemed unwilling to look closely at the genocide perpetrated by their government on their behalf. The average settler just wanted land, a place of his or her own, and many were willing to kill (or let the army kill) the former inhabitants to get it. Brown uses the details of white history to show how the land was taken. For instance, in Colorado in the early 1850s, Governor Evans, in collusion with Colonel John M. Chivington—head of the Colorado Volunteers—and the Indian Agent Samuel G. Colby, schemed to drive all of the Native Americans out of Colorado. They wanted the land for themselves and their friends. In particular, Denver had been built upon Arapaho land, and unless the Native Americans were completely driven out of the state, they would have a claim upon the city. To achieve this end, Governor Evans ordered all the Cheyennes and Arapahos to report to the reservation at Fort Lyons. He then issued a proclamation giving all citizens of Colorado the right to pursue and kill any Indians found living out on the plains. Soon there were no free Cheyennes or Arapahos in Colorado, and Brown's history clearly shows the violent mechanism of white land acquisition.

Writing his history from the point of view of the victims rather than the conquerors, Brown shocks the reader by recounting deadly brutality. He details instances when the United States military, often aided by white settlers, attacked and destroyed entire Native-American villages, killing men, women, and children indiscriminately, burning the tipis, clothing and other means of survival. Often they would kill or steal the Native-Americans' horses, leaving the survivors on foot and without adequate food, clothing or shelter. Women and children, especially babies, would often die of exposure or starvation. Brown does not allow the reader to overlook the painful events. His history is told with impressive detail, down to the particulars of what individuals were doing on the mornings of battles, detailed statistics of the wounded and dead, and words spoken and written by participants on both sides. It is the expert use of details that reflects Brown's conviction of an historian seeking justice and truth, however belatedly. At the same time, Brown maintains an objective tone, despite the brutality he is recording, and this effectively allows the reader to absorb the implications and emotions of the injustices revealed.

Sympathetic to the spirituality of the Native Americans, Brown describes how their rich spiritual lives were often reviled or repressed. He recounts how white missionaries were often put in charge of the Native Americans living on the reservations and how they would ban non-Christian spirituality. The government banned the Ghost Dance, a powerful and healing spiritual ceremony. Brown details the murder of Sioux warrior chief Sitting Bull and the massacre of an unarmed camp of Ghost Dancers, finally putting an end to the dance.

Brown describes how the Native Americans watched as their land was ruined, the streams polluted, the trees cut down, and many animal species, such as the buffalo, almost completely destroyed. Several times, Brown quotes Native Americans, who, in addition to lamenting the destruction of their own way of life, were mystified and saddened by how the whites seemed to hate nature. Brown states, "To the Indians it seemed that these Europeans hated everything in nature—the living forests and their birds and beasts, the grassy glades, the water, the soil, and the air itself." Brown also gives the reader glimpses into the Native Americans' connection with nature, when he refers to seasons as "summer moon" or the "moon of strong cold" rather than calendar time, for instance. This has the effect of creating more empathy in the reader for the lost culture.

Brown's history ends with the massacre at Wounded Knee, a devastating loss for Native America. The last lines of text remark, ironically, on a sign over a church: "PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN," after the brutal killings. Then an eloquent quote by Black Elk, followed by an Indian song of longing, and a photograph and quote of Red Cloud are final reminders to the reader of the tragic history of the Native Americans.


Douglas Dupler, Critical Essay on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, in Nonfiction Classics for Students, Gale, 2003.

Donald L. Fixico

In the following essay, Fixico places Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee within the context of related works of its time, stressing its importance as the first work to humanize Native Americans for the general public.

In 1971 Dee Brown wrote Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee—a book that stunned America, persuading a generation to listen to the voice of Native Americans. Society learned about the Indian as a victim in the American West.

The full impact involved the emergence of an academic Indian voice in the following years. Native Americans had always expressed their concerns and opinions about issues ranging from legal status, to living conditions, to past mistreatment at the hands of the United States government. But the Indian voice was not widely heard, at least by the dominant society, until the 1960s during the Civil Rights protests and the concurrent rise of American Indian activism. During the late 1960s and at the start of the next decade, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee opened the door for the Native American voice and launched a generation of American Indian studies in academia.

At unexpected times, an important work comes along and jolts society, provoking a reaction—right time, right book. And Dee Brown's book has had a long life, perhaps because of its portrayal and inclusion of the Wounded Knee tragedy of 1890 with the slaughter of 350 Minneconjou Ghost Dancers (mostly women and children).

The book was copyrighted in 1970 and appeared in print in January 1971. During the remainder of 1971, Holt, Rinehart and Winston reprinted the book 13 times in 11 months, and it has sold five million copies! This is impact, even in the hard-edged world of capitalism! During these years of the so-called "Third World" movement, the book unveiled a story that Native Americans had always known.

While many enthralled readers turned the pages of Bury My Heart, their consciences acknowledged this mistreatment of the American Indian. Guilt seized them. Scholars, however, remained doubtful about Brown's work. The late historian Wilcomb Washburn noted:

While Brown's work, from the scholarly point of view, leaves something to be desired, its impact has been phenomenal in raising the consciousness of the white Americans about the past history of Indians and whites in America.

The book capitalized on the liberal 1960s, offering something new and different as the decade closed.

Many of us recall those years, witnessing radical changes in America: bell bottoms, the peace sign, Jimi Hendrix, marijuana, Janis Joplin, the 1964 invasion of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the New Left, underground protest groups, Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, the NAACP, John F. Kennedy, LBJ, and more that we wore, hated, believed in, smoked, and became immersed in.

For Native Americans, "Red Power" emerged as a philosophical outspokenness of politics and cultural renaissance, but it confirmed a national identity of "being Indian." The Chicago National Indian Conference and the rise of the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) in 1961, Indian Fish-Ins in Washington in 1964, the founding of the American Indian Movement in 1968, Red Power, and the Alcatraz Take-over in 1969 witnessed a new era of Native American deconstruction and reaction for a generation of Native Americans who wanted to study about themselves and their people's histories and cultures. It was a struggle.

But for Native Americans to succeed at higher education was not yet reality. In 1961, only 66 Indians graduated from four-year institutions. During that decade, the college dropout rate for Native Americans remained at 90 percent. By 1968, only 181 Native Americans had graduated from college. By 1970, Estelle Fuchs and Robert J. Havighurst estimated a 75 percent rate for Indian college dropouts. Twenty years later, in 1988 and 1989, 3,954 Indian students had received Bachelor's degrees, with 1,086 having received Master's degrees and 85 graduate students earning a Ph.D. However, Native Americans still believed that institutions of higher learning were a means for future betterment of Indian people.

Bury My Heart awakened scholars and writers, and especially Native Americans. Native scholars began writing about the feelings of Indian people and about their opinions. Indians felt the frustration of urban alienation and the influence of Red Power activists, and they began to put pen to paper.

In addition to Dee Brown's work, two other important books about Indians appeared during these years—Vine Deloria, Jr.'s Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1968) and N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn (1966). The latter won the Pulitzer Prize, the only work written by a Native American to be recognized.

A part of this scholarly current to study American Indians derived especially from the political movements of Black Power, Brown Power, and Red Power. Civil Rights for minorities and equal rights for women expressed during political protests and activism caused society and institutions of higher learning to reconsider the status and past written histories of ethnic groups and women. Thus, the 1960s represented pivotal changes in American society, as people contemplated their own lives and the values of the mainstream society and the dominant culture that had stressed the importance of education, economics, religion, and individualism.

Until the 1960s, mainstream society had refused to listen to, or to learn from, Native Americans. Naturally, this provoked the title of Vine Deloria, Jr.'s book, We Talk; You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf. From an Indian point of view, Deloria predicted in 1972:

American society is unconsciously going Indian. Moods, attitudes, and values are changing. People are becoming more aware of their isolation even while they continue to worship the rugged individualist who needs no one. The self-sufficient man is casting about for a community to call his own. The glittering generalities and mythologies of American society no longer satisfy the need and desire to belong.

On the heels of We Talk: You Listen came Deloria's God Is Red (1974), in which he pointed out that Native Americans identify with place rather than time as do white men, and that Indians galvanize toward group identity rather than individuality. Undoubtedly, Americans were looking for security in various ways and forms, even looking to Native Americans because of their traditional values of communalism and environmental relationship with the earth. As a result of the self-examining society of the 1960s, people began to ask questions about their inner selves, wondering who they were, and they researched their roots. They needed something with which to identify, and to bring balance to their lives. Many looked toward history for answers, as the rugged individualist American began to break down.

"The emotions that Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee brought forth in readers made for a precedent-setting work. Dee Brown described the feelings and emotions of Native Americans in such a way as no historians had successfully done—he humanized them."

Timing proved to be germane to the powerful influence of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. It was the link to the past, and a model by which people could re-examine that past. Although the revelation of America's mistreatment of Native Americans was shocking, it was not unique; 90 years earlier, Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor had been published—an exposé that had alerted the public to the plight of the American Indian. However, it was as a result of Dee Brown's book in 1971 that journalists, writers, and scholars began to offer new ideas and theories, and they introduced new ways to look at their subjects in a broader context with open minds.

Until the 1960s, the dominant society had maintained strict control over learning, forcing Western linear teaching into the minds of Indian students at boarding schools and missionary schools, while public schools berated the ways of Native Americans and presented them as inferior to white ways. The Native American perspective was ignored until the unleashing in the 1960s.

In his introduction to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown wrote:

… I have tried to fashion a narrative of the conquest of the American West as the victims experienced it, using their own words whenever possible. Americans who have always looked westward when reading about this period should read this book facing eastward … This is not a cheerful book, but history has a way of intruding upon the present, and perhaps those who read it will have a clearer understanding of what the American Indian is, by knowing what he was.

The emotions that Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee brought forth in readers made for a precedent-setting work. Dee Brown described the feelings and emotions of Native Americans in such a way as no historians had successfully done—he humanized them.

As the decade of the 1970s began, numerous books continued to be published about Indians, resulting in some 13 books in print. In 1971, Hazel Hertzberg published The Search for an American Indian Identity: Modern Pan-Indian Movements, indicating that social, cultural, and political history of a minority was indeed important enough to write about, especially in the 20th century. Other noted works appeared as well, including Francis Paul Prucha, ed., The Indian in American History (1971); Joseph G. Jorgensen, The Sun Dance Religion: Power for the Powerless (1972); Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (1973); Bernard Sheehan, Seeds of Extinction: Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian (1973); and Memoirs of Chief Red Fox (1972).

While these important works encouraged a growing interest in the American Indian, and as more books appeared on the horizon, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee had articulated an Indian version of the history of the American West. Redis-covering the "Indian voice" had also occurred in 1971 with Virginia Irving Armstrong, I Have Spoken: American History Through the Voices of the Indians; W. C. Vanderwerth, Indian Oratory: Famous Speeches Told by Noted Indian Chieftains (1971); Joseph Cash and Herbert Hoover, eds., To Be an Indian: an Oral History (1971); and Joseph Epes Brown, ed., The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux (1971). But though these works did not have the same success as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, the door had been opened for listening to the Indian point of view. Students and scholars in particular were keenly interested in what Indians thought about the history of Indian-white relations.

Meanwhile, the National Indian Youth Council and the American Indian Movement (AIM) expressed a contemporary Indian voice, albeit of multiple opinions, during the early 1970s. "The First Convocation of Indian Scholars," limited to 200 participants, convened in 1970 at Princeton University, and the "Second Convocation" occurred the following year at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies in Colorado.

And as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was appearing in January 1971, other interests were developing simultaneously in Indian activism and Native American militancy. Indian activists protested that colleges and universities offered very little about American Indians—or incorrect information—in their college courses. Non-Indians, too, began to embrace the opportunity to study Native Americans to see the courses they had to offer. This interest in Indian curriculum was not new, but was rather a renaissance of Native American issues, which led to a genre of literature with increasing demands. Writings and scholarship was changing, and new sources and inspiration were pursued.

Because of the emergence of Native American studies programs, the momentum carried throughout the 1970s. Even history as an academic discipline began to re-examine its basic approach. In an article entitled "American Historians and the Idea of National Character: Some Problems and Prospects," David Stannard wrote about the American search for "National Character" as a means for writing history, and that historians were looking toward the behavioral sciences in their analyses. Yet, although new ideas about writing history entered the discipline, the old habit of disregarding Native Americans and other minorities still prevailed.

In the early 1970s, the discipline as practiced by mainstream historians refused to make Native Americans a true part of American history. Simultaneously, the Indian struggled for his place in other academic disciplines as well. In 1970, Jeanette Henry reprimanded the history profession and American society for denying Native Americans a proper place in the written history of this country:

… Every dominant political class in any society attempts to control the ideology of the people most particularly through the learning process in the schools. It is not to be wondered at that "this" American society does the same. The school boards and curriculum commissions which control the adoption and purchase of textbooks usually adopt books to support the dominant political class. So too do the professors in universities, [and] departments of various disciplines.

During these times of Civil Rights protests, Indian activism, and AIM militancy, Indian academic warriors like Jeanette Henry and others took on the academic disciplines at academic conferences and in journals, books, and all forms of the printed word. The number of such warriors was small, drawing from a rank of less than 200 Native Americans holding a Ph.D. by the mid-1970s, and this group, which included outspoken Native Americans without doctorates, naturally polarized American academia and Native Americans.

The turf of battle of the American Indian Movement against the United States had been extended to academics, and leading this Indian attack was Vine Deloria, Jr.'s Custer Died for Your Sins ; We Talk, You Listen ; and God Is Red, as well as other related works. Deloria's chapter on "Anthropologists and Other Friends" in Custer Died for Your Sins became a volleying point for heated discussions, charging writers and scholars who exploited Indians for personal gains and misrepresenting Native Americans and their cultures. Deloria insulted anthropologists by writing in his inflammatory chapter that some people are cursed with plagues and bad luck, "… but Indians have been cursed above all other people in history. Indians have anthropologists."

In the middle of the battlefield, native scholars like the late Alfonso Ortiz challenged his own anthropology profession to re-examine Indians and treat them more appropriately. He realized in one of his writings that he had "taken a position, fully mindful of the dangers of being shot at from both sides." Ortiz wrote:

… Anthropology is a science born of imperialists and colonial powers and …, at best, all too many of its practitioners still approach their tribal and peasant subjects with a neo-colonist attitude.

He noted that there were too few Indian scholars to help turn the tide at that time in 1970. A stronger Indian academic voice was needed if, indeed, academia was to revise its paternalistic views of Native Americans.

Sensitive and open-minded non-Indian scholars began to include cultural studies in their writings about Native Americans. Hence, cross-cultural studies and cross-disciplinary works evolved. Attempting to understand Indian culture, environment, and community became essential in order to understand Native Americans. This approach, combined with academia's contemplation of new ideas and theories, urged a reconsideration of the previous means of examining history and the Indian and other minorities.

Then in 1970, the Western Historical Quarterly produced its first issue. The following year, the sixth president of the Western Historical Association, Robert Utley, assessed the field and changes in Western history amidst societal changes resulting from the 1960s. He wrote:

Indeed, I shall be surprised if western studies do not gain new life from the intellectual and social ferment now troubling the nation. As attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, and traditions of American life come increasingly under scrutiny, stereotypes begin to disintegrate … Does not the current obsession with minority and ethnic studies suggest unplowed western fields? Scholars are already beginning to till these fields …

And in 1971, as an example of Utley's admonition, Doubleday published William Loren Katz's The Black West, a documentary and pictorial history; Seth M. Scheiner and Tilden G. Edelstein edited The Black Americans: Interpretative Readings; the third edition of Morris U. Schappes' edited work A Documentary History of the Jews in the United States, 1654-1875, reappeared in print; and Leonard Dinnerstein published his edited book, Antisemitism in the United States.

In November of 1969, The Black Scholar journal had produced its first issue, and other African American publications appeared, such as the Journal of Black Studies with its first issue published in 1970. Subsequently, the Journal of Ethnic Studies released its first issue in the spring of 1973. Other minority journals and publications followed throughout the decade and afterwards, such as the Ethnic Forum in the summer of 1981.

In 1971, Lawrence Towner, past president of Chicago's Newberry Library, and other key individuals, conceived of the idea to establish a center in the Library for studying the history of the American Indian. Towner wanted Indian involvement, so he contacted D'Arcy McNickle, a Flathead Indian studying anthropology, who also studied at Oxford University. In September 1972, the Center for the History of the American Indian opened its doors for business with a supporting grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Newberry Library, and 11 supporting universities. D'Arcy McNickle became the first director of the Center, with many scholars becoming research fellows who would study Native Americans over the years. In 1997, the McNickle Center celebrated its 25th year of researching and studying the American Indian.

In the 1970s, people learned that American Indians have always lived in their own way, in spite of federal policies designed to force them to assimilate into the dominant society. The current 547 federally recognized Native American tribes and other Indian communities exist according to their particular identity and heritage; and this need for freedom of expression involves culture, political concerns, religion, and intellectualism. Although American Indians have sought self-determination since the 1960s, a dominant control of the media, including textbook companies, the film industry, and a majority of publications, suppressed the advancement of Indian people and their communities throughout Indian country.

A "natural sovereignty" for Indian people has meant that all native communities possessed a heritage of freedom. A native identity is based on desired segregation from other peoples and their natural right to pursue their own way of life. This is done on reservations throughout Indian country and in urban Indian areas in most major cities where Native Americans survived the relocation program of the 1950s and 1960s. Currently, more than two-thirds of the total Indian population of just over two million live in urban areas; thus Indian country consists of reservations and urban Indian communities.

A history of struggle is common to all nations, and American Indian tribal nations have certainly had this experience. Their struggle has been one against European imperialism and the United States. The invasion of these foreign nations has defeated and suppressed the Native American, and, in some cases, annihilated Indian people.

Euroamerican colonization has a history of going beyond building homesteads and clearing the land for crops; this colonization experience has been one of deliberate destruction of Native Americans and their culture. Attempts at co-existence did not work out, and the Indian nations fell before the Euroamerican colonization after patriotic resistance in every region of the country.

Aside from attempts of genocide, the survival of Native Americans, even against overwhelming odds, compelled the United States to assimilate Indian people into the ideological "melting pot" of white values. Simultaneously, in order to accomplish this assimilation or desegregation, the United States government and its military sought to suppress the native intellectualism of Indian people. With biased scientific evidence in the late 1800s, and in an attempt to justify the American experience with Frederick Jackson Turner's "frontier thesis," America sought to subordinate Native Americans. An insecure American culture believed it necessary to deem Native American knowledge and native intellectualism to be inferior. Undoubtedly, this was intellectual racism on the part of America, which has not been fully addressed.

The conservativism of the Eisenhower era of the 1950s had caused a backlash against this kind of ideology, provoking an experimentation with liberalism during the next ten years and afterward. But as for Native Americans, they continued to look for themselves in textbooks and public forms of the media. The mainstream saw a "doomed" Indian in books and at the cinema. Perhaps, even worse, in the 20th century Native Americans had virtually disappeared, and simply were not needed by Turnerian historians to explain the history of this country.

In 1968, an Indian student (Shoshone and Bannock) enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, expressed her frustration at finding her place in the white man's world:

It's hard for me to go to college and eventually be assimilated and never be able to relate to the American Indian and their problems. I feel they're trying to make me into a white person … There is little opportunity to learn anything about my own history; I've tried to take courses in history at the University. I can't find out anything about my people.

Until the late 1960s, post-modern America had continued to move forward with increasingly less interest in American Indians, leaving the issue up to Indians to fight for Indian education. But as American Indians were rarely in the path of the daily concerns of the federal government and the public in general, it was left to colleges and universities and Indian communities to advance the interests of America's original people. The American public and our nation's leaders needed to be educated about Indian people and their issues and concerns.

President Lyndon Johnson was sensitive and responded to the concerns of Native Americans and their problems when he gave his "Forgotten American" speech in 1968. In actuality, LBJ proved to be more understanding of Native Americans and their circumstances than his popular predecessor, John F. Kennedy.

Following Johnson's pro-Indian efforts, which included the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, Richard Nixon continued presidential support of Native Americans. In 1972, the Indian Education Act authorized educational programs for American Indian and Alaskan native children, college students and adults, with funding from the Department of Education. In addition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs also funded educational programs for Native Americans. The termination policy of the 1950s and 1960s came to a halt by Congress, and the Kennedy Study Report disclosed an increased need for Indian education. Furthermore, Indian action, especially the militancy of AIM, called for a new federal Indian policy during the early 1970s of the Nixon years.

In 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, which took effect in 1975. This new federal Indian policy authorized the development of Indian education and other reform programs. In addition, organizations like the Ford Foundation and Donner Foundation saw it as their task to educate more Native Americans in graduate programs.

American Indian intellectualism has always existed, but it has not always been acknowledged. Unfortunately, the most brilliant Indian individuals were called to lead their people in war against the United States—those such as Tecumseh, Sitting Bull, and Chief Joseph in the 19th century. In post-modern America, Indian intellectualism should be allowed to be expressed; however, conservative academic attitudes have suppressed or ignored the opportunity for Native American thoughts and ideas. Should not American Indian intellectuals have the same right as others to offer their ideas, philosophies, and theories? Should not American Indian people have the same opportunities to obtain a college education and have the same opportunities to succeed as other Americans? Many years ago, before the first Native American Studies Program, the Lakota sage Luther Standing Bear challenged white society: "Why not a school of Indian thought, built on the Indian pattern and conducted by Indian instructors?"

As teaching and discussing Native American studies became important in the late 1960s and in the 1970s, ethnic studies programs began to emerge on college campuses, and the study of American Indians experienced a renaissance.

Although in 1968 San Francisco State University became the first college to establish a Native American studies program, few people know that the first official Indian studies program had been attempted at the University of Oklahoma in 1914, when Senator Robert Owens of Oklahoma introduced a resolution in the United States Congress calling for an Indian Studies Department. However, nothing had resulted from Owens' efforts. Another effort was made in 1937, once again at the University of Oklahoma, but it too failed. The impetus for an American Indian studies program was premature until after World War II.

In 1968, American Indian studies programs also emerged at the University of Minnesota, the University of California, Berkeley, and later at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1969, Trent University, Ontario, started the first native studies program in Canada. These early programs became the flagships of Indian studies in the United States.

Native American studies programs and departments began to develop during the 1970s, and they flourished. By 1985, 107 colleges and universities had either a program or department of American Indian studies. Many were a part of an ethnic studies program or a unit of an anthropology department. Eighteen Native American studies programs or departments offered majors, and 40 of these offered minors. (For example, a student could obtain a Ph.D. in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley, but Native American Studies was under the umbrella of Ethnic Studies.)

By 1995, six Native American studies units offered graduate programs, including the University of California-Berkeley, University of Arizona, University of California-Los Angeles, and Montana State University; and Harvard University continues to offer a graduate program in American Indian Education. During the mid-1990s, 13 research centers and institutions existed whose objectives focused on American Indians.

In 1976, an estimated 76,000 American Indian students attended accredited colleges and universities. By 1984, some 82,672 Native Americans were enrolled in colleges and universities. Another 60 percent of that number attended two-year community colleges. It was obvious that many Indian youth wished to pursue American Indian studies. By 1997, 124 Native American studies programs existed. Admittedly, most of these programs lack recognition and visibility; however, several have earned national distinction through the years for their activities such as the programs at Berkeley, UCLA, University of Minnesota, University of Oklahoma, and University of Arizona, Tucson.

In 1996, the American Indian studies program at the University of Arizona announced the end of a seven-year struggle to offer the first doctoral program in American Indian studies. With seven core Native American faculty, and with a total of 19 faculty participating in the program, American Indian studies at the University of Arizona have set an important new precedent.

The need for more visibility of Native American studies and other ways of academic advancement is imperative in educating other minorities and mainstream Americans about Native Americans and their many diverse cultures. Carter Blue Clark, a Muscogee Creek historian and executive vice president at Oklahoma City University, stated:

American Indian Studies is trapped in … [a] cultural dilemma … American Indian Studies fits no standard academic mold. American Indian Studies is by its nature interdisciplinary … American Indians are unique, and so is their discipline. They stand alone among all of the other ethnic groups because of their history, which involves treaties, tribalism, and other aspects that set them apart.

The Native American presence in academia had emerged noticeably with the works of the first generation of Indian scholars in post-modern America—Vine Deloria, Jr., and N. Scott Momaday in the late 1960s, as well as Francis LaFlesche, John Milton Oskison, John Joseph Matthews, Luther Standing Bear, James Paytiamo, George Webb, John Tebble, John Rogers, and D'Arcy McNickle. Because the public and publishers seemed willing to entertain the writings of Native Americans, another group soon followed, consisting of Howard Adams, Robert Burnette, Harold Cardinal, Rupert Costo, Edward P. Dozier, Jack D. Forbes, Jeanette Henry, Bea Medicine, Alfonso Ortiz, and Robert K. Thomas. In the creative writing field, the list included Leslie Silko, Duane Niatum, Simon Ortiz, Gerald Vizenor, James Welch, Ray Young Bear, and many others.

American Indian intellectualism also has been expressed by publication of a dozen or more Native American journals, which were founded in the 1970s and 1980s. In the mid-1990s, articles about Native Americans were published in Akwekon (Cornell University, 1984), American Indian Culture and Research Journal (UCLA, 1974), Journal of American Indian Education (Arizona State University, 1961), American Indian Law Journal (Institute for the Development of Indian Law, Washington, D.C., 1975), American Indian Law Review (University of Oklahoma, 1973), American Indian Quarterly (now at University of Oklahoma, 1974), Canadian Journal of Native Studies, Journal of Alaska Native Arts (Institute of Alaska Native Arts, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1984), Journal of Navajo Education (Chinle, Arizona, 1983), Native Studies Review in Canada, Tribal College Journal, and Wiscazo Sa Review (Eastern Washington University, 1985). The majority of these journals are peer-judged and externally refereed. Because of the diversity of Native Americans and their multiple interests, more Indian journals are needed. Yet, human and financial resources are lacking, thus limiting American Indian and non-Indian scholars publishing their works.

American Indian identity in academia has required increased attention and action. In 1985, historian Carter Blue Clark stated:

Interest in American Indians will continue as a result of the historic legacy of Manifest Destiny, yearning for family roots, and a lingering romantic attachment to the glories of a bygone era. The necessities of earning a living with marketable skills will not lessen the need to maintain Indian cultural ties and to learn more about one's Indianness through American Indian Studies. Even though some of the attributes of Indian studies will alter with changing demands from society and administrators, American Indian Studies will continue to offer insights into America's unique culture and heritage. The basic mission of American Indian Studies is to educate and enlighten all students about the diverse and rich cultures that make up American Indian life.

As Indian communities have continued to flourish—with much promise for this next century and the new millennium—academia has endeavored to keep pace. The number of tribally controlled colleges has increased. The first, the Navajo Community College, started as only an idea in the early 1960s. With funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity, the tribe, and the Donner Foundation, the Navajo Nation founded the Navajo Community College in 1968. Additional tribal colleges were soon established in California, North Dakota, andSouth Dakota. As of this writing, there are 30 such colleges.

Tribal colleges received major support when the U.S. Congress passed the Tribally Controlled Community College Act in 1978, providing limited grants for starting these institutions in Indian country, including any Alaskan native village or village corporation approved by the Secretary of the Interior. At this pace, one college is being established each year. These community colleges base and develop their curriculum to meet the needs of their people, with practically oriented courses in business and administration.

The faculty for these 30 colleges are degreed Native Americans. It is now estimated that some 400 Native Americans in the United States have earned a Ph.D., and many others have earned a Master's degree. In the various academic fields for the professions, however, there are less than 25 Native Americans in each. And in each of the fields, the number of Native Americans, who are three-fourths or full-bloods are a fraction of the less than 25 in each field.

Institutions such as Arizona State University are extraordinary for having so many Native Americans holding doctorates; most colleges and universities have a couple, one, or none. Native American faculty and American Indian programs are vital to advancing the scholarship of Native American studies and to increasing the number of Indian college graduates. Unfortunately for American Indians, the colleges and universities that were founded to educate Native Americans, such as Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and the College of William and Mary, are not identified today as Indian schools.

Perhaps it is even more sad that the future of Native American studies—and the hope of graduating more American Indians—is in the hands of non-Indians who may not be able to give them the same attention that they commit to other minority groups and the mainstream. American Indian studies and Native Americans suffer from this virtual neglect, and this is reflected on college campuses across the country, where Indian students, faculty, and administrators are a mere fraction of the mainstream.

Yet, in spite of the suppression and neglect of American Indians on college campuses, the interest in them remains for many and complex reasons, including a curiosity of wanting to hear the Indian point of view. The late 1960s and early 1970s represented a drastic change in the study of Native Americans, beginning with listening to the Indian voice of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee—a voice that was varied, coming as it did from a myriad of Indian people who were outraged at the federal government, angry at the dominant society, and frustrated with their own people, or themselves. Dee Brown's work enabled this voice to be heard and gave it a sense of direction.


Donald L. Fixico, " Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and the Indian Voice in Native Studies," in Journal of the West, Vol. 39, No. 17, January 2000, pp. 7-15.


Brown, Dee, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970, reprint, Owl Books, 2001.

Gilder, Joshua, "Who's on First," in New York Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 14, April 7, 1980, pp. 76-77.

McNeil, Helen, "Savages," in New Statesman, Vol. 82, No. 2115, October 1, 1971, pp. 444-45.

Momaday, N. Scott, "When the West Was Won and a Civilization Was Lost," in the New York Times Book Review, March 7, 1971, pp. 46-47.

Rechy, John, "The Flaws to Make a Fiction Shine," in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 3, 1983, pp. 2, 9.

Silko, Leslie Marmon, "They Were the Land's," in the New York Times Book Review, May 25, 1980, pp. 10, 22.

Further Reading

Ambrose, Stephen E., Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors, Anchor, 1996.

In this compelling set of profiles, Ambrose weaves a narrative that compares Crazy Horse to General George Armstrong Custer. As Ambrose shows, before the two leaders first met in battle at Little Big Horn in 1876, their lives were remarkably parallel.

Andrist, Ralph K., The Long Death: The Last Days of the Plain Indians, reprint, University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

This seminal work in Native-American studies, first published in 1964, describes how Native Americans were crowded into increasingly smaller areas by the massive westward expansion of white settlers.

Hirschfelder, Arlene, Native Americans: A History in Pictures, Dorling Kindersley, 2000.

This book offers a detailed overview of Native-American history from ancestral times to the present day. It contains hundreds of photos, illustrations, maps, profiles of major Native-American leaders, famous quotations, and informative sidebars.

Nies, Judith, Native American History: A Chronology of a Culture's Vast Achievements and Their Links to World Events, Ballantine Books, 1996.

Nies gives a thorough timeline of the major events in Native-American history, from prehistorical times until 1996. Using a two-column format, she places these events next to the other world events from the same year, giving readers a context within which to understand the Native-American events.