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The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, David Treuer


The author is an Ojibwe Indian from northern Minneosta… a book about American Indians written by an American Indian that blends a century of history with his own memoir. It dives into what American Indians in the US have done, what’s happened to them, and what their lives have been like since the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, SD. How the frontiers were closed, and Indians were confined to reservations (the clash of civilizations seemed to have wound down). Wounded Knee symbolized the accepted version of reality – of an Indian past and an American present, begun in barbarism but realized as a state of democratic idealism. The book is a counternarrative to the stories that have been told about them… it is an attempt to confront the ways Indians see themselves, their place in this world… their self-regard, the vision, and versions they hold of who they are, and what they mean… all these matters greatly. It traces the stories of ordinary Indian people to show the reader the complexity with which Indians understand their own past, present, and future. How some in Indian tribes not only clung to the old ways but also found in them a strength that would see them through some awful times…. To preserve what remained. The fact that American Indians, by law, did not become official American citizens until 1924 tells a story itself. They were told to be ashamed of who they were, to be ‘Americanized’, to confine to the ways of everyone else. Treuer states that ‘the Indian’ probably didn’t think much of him or herself as such until after 1950. “If you want to know America- if you want to see it for what it is- you need to look at Indian history and at the Indian present.” A very interesting and fascinating perspective and a must for anyone interested in American Indian culture and history.

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