Brown attempts to explain the plight of modern-day American Indians, too often the victims of poverty and hopelessness and often presented as caricatures, by showing what these proud people once were. If they appeared naïve in their dealings with white people, it was only because they were left with little choice. Their land would be taken anyway.
Conflict between native tribes and Europeans began almost immediately upon the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. As Brown notes, word of European barbarism was quickly outpaced by the spread of conquest. Within three centuries, white settlers had reached the Mississippi River, pushing native tribes before them.
Brown has used the period between 1860 and 1890 to illustrate the conflict between native peoples and the U.S. military. Each chapter presents events that occurred during specific years within that era, as viewed by individual tribes or tribal leaders. The result is a long series of descriptions, often depressing, of cruelties inflicted on innocent people.
The Sand Creek affair was typical of the dealings between American Indians and the U.S. military. Motavato (Black Kettle), as chief of the Southern Cheyenne, recognized the futility in fighting the white people and was willing to make every effort to promote peace. Just prior to the start of the Civil War, Black Kettle agreed to settle his people in a small region near Sand Creek, in present-day Colorado. In return, they...
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