Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

by Dee Brown

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What is the major message of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee?

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It's largely a matter of opinion, but the main message I derive from reading the book is how history is written by the victors—and how that skewed perspective can prevent us from getting at the truth. Most people are doubtless familiar with countless movies, TV shows, and Western adventure stories where Native Americans are presented as the bad guys, harmfully stereotyped as bloodthirsty, marauding savages brutally preying on white, God-fearing settlers.

For many years, this was the grotesquely distorted picture that prevailed among most white Americans. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee challenges the victors' narrative by telling the story of those silenced, marginalized, and repressed. In listening to the story of the vanquished, we gain a much broader, more truthful perspective of what really happened in the United States in the nineteenth century. History may well be written by the victors, but the victors and the jaundiced historical account they provide can still be challenged, and that's precisely what Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee sets out to do and achieves comprehensively.

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I would say that the major mesage is the ramifications of  deception. The soldiers and government repeatedly trick the Native Americans into signing unfavorable contracts, steal their land, and try to corral them into reservations.  Sadly, some of the Native Amerians also betray their people through deception, urged on by the whites who make false promises that these men believe. Depection leads to anger and bloodshed on both sides. 

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