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Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 7/20/2017 6:58:45 AM
Hi folks,

I've taken an interest in the Old West and I recently watched a swathe of revisionist films such as "Little Big Man", "Dances With Wolves (the, imo, superior Director's Cut)", "Son of the Morning Star" and "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" (HBO, 2007) - all enjoyable in their own right, although I had issues with the portrayals of both sides throughout each work, although I exempt "Little Big Man" from any serious critical review as it's clearly a picaresque piece.

I'm now beginning a literary journey into the era and decided to start with the above - I'll report back on here with my review when I finish - I may also add interim comments if anything in particular raises an interest.

If anybody has any recommendations on other books relating to the era of c.1860 to 1891 on the American frontier, I'd be be very grateful to hear from them.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Dick Evick
Waco , TX, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal
Posts: 160

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 7/20/2017 10:11:56 AM
"Empire of the Summer Moon: Rise and Fall of the Comanches"

Colin I would recommend this book to your must read list. Some is pre 1860 but still an informative and great read.

Dick.

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 7/20/2017 11:59:44 AM
Dick,

Much appreciated, I'll get hold of it. Thanks for the tip.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Brian Williams
Atlanta, GA, USA
Administrator


Posts: 368
http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com
Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 7/25/2017 2:31:26 PM
As Dick mentioned, "Empire of the Summer Moon" was a great book. Also, fascinating along the same lines was "Captured by the Indians: 15 Firsthand Accounts, 1750-1870".

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 7/26/2017 9:31:05 AM
Thanks Brian, I'll try and hunt it down at a non-Amazon outlet.

The library grows!

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 8/10/2017 4:37:36 AM
I finished this the other night. For the most part, I enjoyed the book; the writing style, content and tone was (unsurprisingly) heavily laced with revisionism, much of it justified but some not so. For example, Brown goes to great lengths to detail in several gruesome paragraphs the heinous atrocities committed by Chivington's thugs at Sand Creek; an incident where numerous white settlers were killed, resulting in three white women being kidnapped and raped by their Indian attackers merits but one sentence. I know the objective of the book was to re-balance a century of propaganda, but there can be no escaping that atrocities were committed on both sides.

That being said, it is my first real foray into the written history of the American Frontier in the 19th century and I look forward to new pieces (as recommended above) to add depth and further background. I've just started "The Last Stand" by Nathaniel Philbrick, which looks in great detail at the events of and leading up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn. I'll consider reporting back on a new thread regarding this book.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5729

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 8/10/2017 5:59:30 AM
Colin, I read this book many years ago and liked it very much.

I think that Dee Brown did an admirable job to give the Indian perspective on expansionism by white Americans and how we view First Nation's cultures.

For the most part, these people were not treated kindly and were often portrayed as sub-human savages. That made their killing more acceptable.

It was the Indian who was under siege so I am not sure that there is a way to balance the reporting of specific events without making it sound as though this was a fair fight.

Cheers,

George




Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 8/10/2017 7:23:09 AM
Hi George,

I must make it clear that I enjoyed the book and Brown managed to portray the First Americans(1) in a positive, possibly for the first time in mass media. Certainly, the massacre of men, women and children becomes more palatable when they're portrayed as "sub-human savages", as you say. Why else was there not public outcry over the increasingly brutal and unjust way in which these people were treated? Even their retaliation becomes understandable in this context; although rape and murder can never be justified, you can understand the anger of the First Americans and their need to strike back, usually against isolated parties or communities. However, Dee Brown does gloss over the retaliatory actions of the First Americans, to the extent where you wonder whether there were any First Americans who weren't wholly honourable and noble?

What of the settlers, driven West by poverty and desperation? Are they to be portrayed as greedy murderers out to rid their rightful lands of Indians? Surely that wasn't typical of the time?

Cheers,

Colin



(1)I prefer this term to Indians or Native Americans - what do others think? I also like the First Nations term used in Canada.
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5729

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 8/10/2017 8:59:32 AM
Hi Colin,

The settlers were interlopers, all of us.

First Nations people, most of them, had no concept of individual land ownership. They did understand the concept of territory and would fight other tribes to maintain their primacy in a territory.

Some were farmers while others were nomadic, moving between summer and winter for shelter or hunting and fishing.

The Europeans arrived and immediately claimed the lands for whichever sovereign they served.

The history of the domination of the First Nations is fraught with abrogation of treaty responsibilities by Europeans. Deals were struck with many FN's and these were solemn agreements to most of the FN tribes.

The number of treaty violations is huge.

Once the 13 colonies decided to move beyond the mountains and into "Indian" territory, I am afraid to say that there was a concerted effort to push the native people out of territories that the white people coveted.

And yes the objective was to pacify the Indian and remove him from the lands that the whites wanted.

"Greedy murderers"?? I believe that expansion especially in the US was justified as pre-ordained.

The indigenous people were in the way and if they did not agree to occupy reserve lands as offered by the US government, they were forcefully removed.

There was a war against the indigenous people, especially those who were Plains Indians who refused to comply with the ambitions of the settlers and the government.

We should also recall that in British North America and later in Canada that the governments wished to assimilate the various FN cultures. They wished to "drive the Indian out of the Indian". There were government schemes to do so in which FN children were taken from their parents and forced into residential schools where the were forbidden to speak their native tongue and were taught to behave as white people did.

They were taught that their religions were paganism and forced to worship as Christians.

It is altogether a sordid and sorry tale, Colin. Many Canadians are coming to learn just how complicit our cultures were as they subjugated and tried to assimilate indigenous cultures into ours.

There was far less bloodshed on our side of the line and many FN's were extended some accommodation but the desire to marginalize them was the same as in the US.

Cheers,

George

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1460

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 8/10/2017 9:29:18 PM
Colin, what are you looking to understand about the conquest of North America? Just the systemic destruction of indigenous folks?

Dunno why you chose 1860, though given your "c." it is near enough to both the beginning and end of the US Civil War to suggest the date is significant to you. Dunno whether your interest is only focused on usurping native land, either in what is now the US or in what is now Canada.

I live in a small city (current pop. ~65,000; area pop. ~300,000) that was established as a fort (i.e., a "trading fort") on Canada's West Coast as early as 1843. The Factor (Governor), James Douglas, was a Mulatto with Scottish links, and he married a First Nations woman in Victoria. He created treaties with local native bands; he created a park (200 acres of land sacred to local natives) that still exists unspoiled today. Canadian Confederation was the issue that impacted Douglas's relationships with our First Nations people. But of course, white men's diseases also played a part, killing off almost 50% of our First Nations population in the years we call "post-contact.

Colin, I know that there are no accurate, honest or realistic films about the white destruction of First Nations peoples. And although this isn't a field of interest to me, I sense that most written volumes will not provide accurate histories.This will be so whether reading about Canada or the US: keep Churchill's dictum about who writes history in mind.

My grandfather (aged 21, but as eldest son head of family) arrived in Vancouver (IIUC, then still known as Grandville) in 1886. He pre-empted land on Bowen Island (near the entrance to Vancouver's harbour) and is registered as the "fourth resident of Bowen Island". How's that for arrogance?

I guess I'm ranting a bit, and bouncing comments around, but I sense there is no book, document, history or film that comes anywhere close to providing the usurpation of first nations' lands by folks who thought sharing was weakness. I don't know if we're looking at "manifest destiny" or simply at Eurocentric arrogance, but I honestly hope that you don't buy into the history as written by whites who headed west. By definition, IMHO, they are all liars!

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Book
Posted on: 8/15/2017 9:26:38 AM
Brian/George,

Thanks for your comments and questions.

George, you've given me much to ponder without really asking for anything back - hopefully I can provoke a bit of discussion below.


Quote:
Colin, what are you looking to understand about the conquest of North America? Just the systemic destruction of indigenous folks?


Brian, I suppose what I'm looking to learn about is how North America as we know it today came to be. The conquest and subjugation, as I see it, of the First Americans is an unavoidable . I chose the date c.1860 as I'm fairly familiar with the American Civil War and the general international situation in that time, so I would at least have reference points to gauge the actions of the government/settlers in their own context. I was keen to find out whether Sand Creek, for example, was seen as a massacre or a bona fide engagement by the general public at the time. Although there was an outcry as the details emerged, the official response can only be described as a whitewash.

I haven't dipped too far into the story of Canada and I will try to learn more about that also. I know there was a marked difference in the approach of the British/Canadians and the Americans from the 18th century onwards, but the conclusion seems to be the same for the First Nations regardless; poverty, isolation and inequalities in health invariably seems to be the outcome.


Quote:
I don't know if we're looking at "manifest destiny" or simply at Eurocentric arrogance, but I honestly hope that you don't buy into the history as written by whites who headed west.


Oh no, definitely not. Awful and unforgivable acts were committed against the Native Americans. I think there's a story to be told about the settlers though. Desperate people seeking new lives; up against hunger, disease, extreme weather, banditry and hostile natives. It was do or die. The tragedy is that neither side, on the whole, really seems to have been that keen on fighting until it actually occurred, then it became a maelstrom of atrocities.

Cheers,

Colin

---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

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