Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

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This is one of the more famous novels which recounts the tales of the Native Americans suffering through the loss of their homes, lives, and cultures. This book took me a long time to get through, and not because it was a bad book, or boring, but because it was so difficult to read through.

I was adopted off of a reservation out in Iowa because my mother and her family were so destitute they couldn’t afford to take on a child, many Natives living in modern times are living in squalor, with alcohol addiction running rampant. Sometimes I encounter people who think that most Natives are rich off casinos when in reality that’s a very small minority of people who’ve found a way to capitalize on Americas gambling problem.

Anyway…. this book is rough to read through, I think everyone knows how the Natives were systematically killed, forced off their land, and are vaguely aware of things like The Trail of Tears – but I would guess that very few have actually picked up a book on it.

The way the US government and military broke so many contracts, promises, and deals over and over and over again leaving the Natives with no choice but to hope the next time would be different is so heart breaking. No country is without their black moments in history, but I think it’s important to take a close look at them to understand where we come from, and what’s happened to so many cultures that have almost been wiped out entirely. So many tribes and cultures were effectively eradicated, and many more combined and gelled together losing aspects of what made them unique – but there was no other way to survive.

I think this should be required reading in high school history classes, reading a few paragraphs or chapters in a history book and moving on to something else (or not covering at all as my case was) is a travesty and an injustice.

Be warned this is not a happy book, each chapter begins with a new deal that was struck, and you KNEW how it was going to end up – but you were hoping along with the Natives “maybe this time will be different”, and each time your heart broke with them when inevitably the promises were broken.

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