Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Summary and Analysis Chapter 8: The Rise and Fall of Donehogawa

Dee Brown

Summary and Analysis Chapter 8: The Rise and Fall of Donehogawa

New Characters
Donehogawa/Ely Samuel Parker: An Iroquois who adopted the name Ely Samuel Parker and served as Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Jacob Cox: As Secretary of the Interior, he assured the Sioux that they could live outside their reservation and trade and receive goods.

Summary
Donehogawa, an Iroquois who was installed as the new Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1869, learns of the January 23, 1870, massacre of Piegan Blackfeet three months after it happened. He orders an investigation into the massacre, which had angered many Plains Indians. He also asks Red Cloud to come to Washington, D.C., for talks. Red Cloud and his group of 15 Oglalas meet Donehogawa in June and express the Sioux’s anger over the treaty of 1868 which, as ratified by the Congress, puts the Sioux agency on the Missouri River. Donehogawa has Secretary of the Interior Cox explain that the Sioux would still be able to stay in their Powder River country because it was reserved as an Indian hunting ground. The Sioux would also not need to go to the reservation to trade or to receive their goods. Donehogawa’s downfall starts in the latter part of 1870. His enemies attack him as being nearly a savage due to his Indian ethnicity, and this prevents his agency from being able to buy supplies for reservation Indians.This eventually forces his resignation, which comes in the summer of 1871 after a House inquiry into his alleged misconduct.

Analysis
The question of how Donehogawa could become Commissioner of Indian Affairs is answered by the explanation that during the Civil War, he had been acquainted with President Grant, who was impressed by his abilities. However, news of the wholesale massacre of Piegan Blackfeet prompts the question of whether Indians could have ever had a place in the white man’s civilization. Didn’t the utter ruthlessness of the soldiers who slaughtered the Blackfeet show that the Army found it better policy to kill Indians than try to negotiate with them?

The story of Donehogawa’s demise makes that question even more pointed. It is, nonetheless, clearly true that the eager reception of the Indians in the East reflected an enduring fascination with them, even among those whites not on the frontier. The chapter's conclusion, with its story of Donehogawa, the alleged near-barbarian, making a fortune in New York City, shows the readers that apparently Indians could indeed make it in white civilization, but only if they played on the white man’s terms.