Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

by Dee Brown

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1663

Chapter 1: “Their Manners are Decorous and Praiseworthy” 1. The first chapter briefly outlines the white settlement of America from 1492 to 1860. What were the consequences of those settlements for the Eastern Indian tribes discussed in the chapter?

2. The second part of the first chapter describes the position of various Western tribes as of 1860. Why does Brown provide these descriptions of the tribes he will extensively discuss later in the book?

Chapter 2: The Long Walk of the Navahos 1. Much of the conflict between the Navahos and the U.S. involved the destruction of Navaho horses, mules, livestock, crops, and food stores. The Army also issued insufficient amounts of rations and other supplies to the Navahos. What was the purpose of those actions, and how might the whites have justified them?

2. Brown describes the disputed horse race between Manuelito and the Army lieutenant, and the subsequent massacre, as permanently creating bitterness between the Navahos and the Army. What were the possible reasons for the Army to trick Manuelito and massacre the Navahos?

Chapter 3: Little Crow's War 1. Brown says “ten years of abuse by white men” caused the Santee Sioux to begin fighting the whites. Did the tribe have any other option besides attacking the whites?

2. Most quotations in Chapter 3 are of Santee Sioux, while quotations of whites are short and infrequent. What effect does this disparity have on you as you read the chapter? How would the framing of the events described in the chapter have changed if most of the quotes were from the Army and other whites?

Chapter 4: War Comes to the Cheyennes 1. Compare and contrast the initially cordial relations between the Plains Indians and whites from 1858 to mid-1864 with the state of their relations as described at the end of Chapter 4.

2. The Bent brothers serve as pivotal figures in this chapter. Describe the reasons for their rejection of white civilization, and describe their relationship with the civilization they abandoned.

Chapter 5: Powder River Invasion 1. Compare the naiveté of the Plains Indians as described early in Chapter 5 with their increased skepticism, ferocity, and confidence at the end of the chapter. What were the reasons for this change in attitude? What results did the change produce?

2. Do you think the reluctance of the 2,000 troops under Colonels Cole and Walker to continue serving in the Army after the Civil War ended contributed to the Army’s loss to the Sioux? Why or why not?

Chapter 6: Red Cloud's War 1. Red Cloud won his war against the Army. What tactics did he employ to help him win? Could similar tactics have been employed by other Indian chiefs to achieve victory?

2. The Sioux’s suspicion of the whites resulted from U.S. aggression and the duplicity, trickery, and lies, as well as from their exposure to previously unknown technology. Compare and contrast the Sioux’s reaction to aggression and dishonesty with their reaction to the whites’ technology.

Chapter 7: “The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian” 1. Is General Sheridan’s ruthlessness and statement that “the only good Indians I ever saw were dead” an accurate representation of the whites’ basic attitude toward the Cheyennes and other Indian tribes?

2. Gray Beard insists on being treated like a man, and not a dog, by the whites. On the other hand, Stone Calf tells General Sheridan that his soldiers should “grow long hair” in order to give the Cheyennes “some honor in killing them.” What effect did the Indians’ cultural standards and warrior ethos have on their opinion...

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of the Army and their strategy against it?

Chapter 8: The Rise and Fall of Donehogawa 1. Does the fate of Donehogawa suggest that no Indian could remain in a position of power in the U.S. government while the U.S. was struggling to conquer the Indians?

2. Describe Donehogawa's actions as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. To what extent did he use his position to advance and assist the Indians’ cause?

Chapter 9: Cochise and the Apache Guerrillas 1. Describe the significance of the events that took place in response to the Tucson expedition’s massacre of Aravaipas. Did the acquittal of the Tucson killers prove that an Indians’ rights would not be recognized in the U.S. justice system?

2. In Cochise’s speech to General Granger, he calls himself a poor man and says the Apaches “do as the animals, go about at night and rob and steal.” How does his description of himself conflict with the white men’s description of him as “gentle in his manners, and very neat and clean in his appearance”? Compare Cochise’s description of himself and his tribe with the claim made by many whites that Indians were not human.

Chapter 10: The Ordeal of Captain Jack 1. The disagreement between Hooker Jim and Captain Jack over strategy against the U.S. is one example of division within a tribe over how to respond to the U.S. threat. How does Jack’s treatment of Hooker Jim compare with the actions an Army official would have taken in a similar situation?

2. What does the treatment of Captain Jack’s body say about Eastern attitudes towards Indians?

Chapter 11: The War to Save the Buffalo 1. Make a comparison between the Indians’ desire to save the buffalo and the whites’ desire to discover and mine gold. Did the two different desires accurately reflect the respective cultural ideals of the two races?

2. What does the taunting of Kicking Bird for wanting to farm rather than hunt indicate about the Kiowas’ preferred lifestyle?

Chapter 12: The War for the Black Hills 1. Custer’s defeat is a very well-known part of U.S. history, but the author spends very little time talking about Custer himself. What is the effect of this de-emphasizing of Custer?

2. The U.S. response to Custer’s defeat produced final defeat for the Sioux, as they were removed from the Black Hills and put on reservations. This pattern of an initial Indian victory followed by later defeat appeared in earlier chapters as well. Does this show that, ultimately, the Indians had no hope of defeating the U.S. and maintaining their independence?

Chapter 13: The Flight of the Nez Percés 1. Chief Joseph’s desire for peace, friendship, and good relations with the U.S. is thwarted by the whites’ desire for his land and money. How do these opposing desires raise the question of which side was more savage and uncivilized, the Indians or the whites?

2. What is the importance of General Sherman’s reaction to the reports that the Nez Percés were fleeing “almost within view of his luxurious camp”?

Chapter 14: Cheyenne Exodus 1. Is Brown’s statement that Mackenzie “was able to afford compassion for the survivors now that they were defenseless” merely his speculation, or is it accurately reflected by historical facts?

2. What do the words of the young warrior, “We will go north at all hazards, and if we die in battle our names will be remembered and cherished by all our people,” say about the warrior ethic of the Cheyennes? Did Brown intend for this book to be a way for readers to read and remember the names of the Cheyenne warriors?

Chapter 15: Standing Bear Becomes a Person 1. In arguing that he was a “person,” Standing Bear tried to change his legal status from that of Indian to that of U.S. citizen. However, it was decided that the ruling in his favor did not extend to any other Indians. Are Indians currently living on reservations primarily Indians, or are they primarily U.S. citizens? Discuss how the ruling in favor of Standing Bear has evolved over time.

2. General Sherman ordered that Standing Bear’s legal victory “does not apply to any other than that specific case.” Did Sherman have any legal justification for making that decision? What would have been the consequences if other Indians had gained the status of U.S. citizen?

Chapter 16: “The Utes Must Go!” 1. The anti-Ute article reprinted across Colorado inflamed sentiment against the Utes. What impact did “The Utes Must Go!” slogan have on the fate of the Utes?

2. Agent Meeker played a key role in arousing anger toward the Utes. He justified his policies towards the tribe by writing in an imaginary dialogue that the Utes had no right to the reservation land and knew nothing of “the joys of work” and “the value of material goods.” How do these arguments reflect whites’ desire to “reform” the Indians’ morals and lifestyle?

Chapter 17: The Last of the Apache Chiefs 1. The author does not explain why the beaten Apache warriors were sent to Florida while their children were sent to an Indian school in Pennsylvania. What was the purpose of sending the Apaches so far from their homeland?

2. The author describes Victorio as “a ruthless killer” while dismissing the many “atrocity stories” made up about Geronimo by rumor mongers. Why was Geronimo, not Victorio, singled out by whites as a villain?

Chapter 18: Dance of the Ghosts 1. The Ghost Dance religion combined a Christian doctrine with a prophecy intended specifically for Indians. What explains the reasons why the Sioux and other tribes were so receptive to the Ghost Dance religion?

2. What does the contrast between what Sitting Bull said of white people in his speech at Bismarck and his white audience’s applause for the translation of his speech say about white-Indian relations? Similarly, why did the same people who booed him during the Wild West Tour pay for his signed photograph after the shows?

Chapter 19: Wounded Knee 1. Is Louise Weasel Bear’s claim that, unlike the white soldiers who opened fire on Indian children at Wounded Knee, Indian soldiers would not kill white children believable? What evidence from this chapter and earlier chapters supports or refutes her claim?

2. Why did Brown choose to spend the final chapter of his book describing the battle of Wounded Knee? What is the intended contrast between the wounded Sioux entering the Episcopal church and the Christmas banner in the church proclaiming “PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN”?


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