The Heartbeat Of Wounded Knee Book Summary By David Treuer

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The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer is a remarkable and vivid history of the Native American experience since Wounded Knee Creek massacre in South Dakota in 1890.

This book is not only an account of a dark era, but takes readers on a journey through moments filled with extraordinary events that showcase Native Americans’ strength and resilience as successful members of society.

Contrary to popular opinion, this book demonstrates how Native Americans have achieved much despite facing challenges and difficult times throughout history.

Readers will gain a deeper understanding and insight into stories from celebrated tribal individuals and momentous events that were spurred by powerful voices making them heard on a global platform.

This impactful work is essential reading for anyone wanting to explore the incredible power and influence of the Indigenous population.

The Heartbeat Of Wounded Knee Book

Book Name: The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (Native America from 1890 to the Present)

Author(s): David Treuer

Rating: 4.1/5

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

David Treuer is an acclaimed American author, researcher and native activist of the Ojibwe people.

He is a distinguished professor who holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan.

Treuer has significantly contributed to literature by publishing multiple renowned novels, such as Little (1995) and The Hiawatha (1999).

He recently published his book The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 To The Present, which aims to shed light on Native American history between the years 1890-present.

In his book, Treuer provides readers with an honest and personal perspective about the Indian Removal Acts impacting Indigenous peoples during this time period.

A Glimpse Into The United States’ Last 129 Years Of Native American History

Native American

With The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, native history is being brought to the spotlight in ways that it desrves.

It is a chance for America to recognize and respect Native American cultures and their proud history which far too often has been neglected.

This book sheds light on the events leading up to 1890’s Wounded Knee Massacre, showing that this was not simply a time of cowboys and Indians, but rather an era with events, trade-offs and triumphs for many different tribes across the US.

Further sections explore topics like Native American boarding schools and how Native Americans are taking advantage of today’s connective power of social media.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee shines a well-deserved spotlight onto a neglected part of history.

It’s a thought-provoking look at how this resilient people have survived against all odds and continue to fight for their rights even today.

The Massacre Of Wounded Knee: The Consequences Of An Unheeded Warning And The Enduring Resilience Of Indigenous Culture

For many, the massacre at Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890 was seen as the end of Native American history and culture.

On this day, federal soldiers fired upon a band of Lakota people who were fleeing their Standing Rock Indian Reservation in order to find refuge in the Pine Ridge Reservation.

This violent encounter resulted in more than 300 Sioux men, women and children being shot by the cavalry – including 150 deaths and many more wounded.

This is a tragedy that will never be forgotten as it marks a momentous point in history that highlights the power imbalance between indigenous peoples and settlers.

Moreover, this event led Dee Brown to author Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee which has become an iconic reference point for those seeking to learn about Native American history.

Therefore, for many this massacre is often viewed as an “end” of Native American history and culture due to its devastating impact on Indigenous peoples across America.

The Us Government’S Destructive Native American Boarding Schools And Their Legacy Of Assimilation

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Native American children were forcibly abducted from their reservations and placed in Western educational institutions.

These “boarding schools” were created by the US government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as part of a long-term strategy to control future generations of Native Americans, falsely presented as a humanitarian effort to supposedly “rescue” them from reservation poverty.

At these schools strict military order and discipline was employed, with punishments such as washing mouths with soap for violating language rules and beatings for other forms of disobedience.

Traditional Native American gender roles were also suppressed – for example female students only being taught sewing, cooking and cleaning – in order to conform to Euro-American standards.

Eventually these compulsory boarding school programs were suspended in the late 1930s but not before a pan-Indian identity had begun to emerge amongst Native American students who had been brought together from different, often hostile tribes.

This mutual identity would later help fuel successful struggles for Native American rights.

The Dawes Act: Indigenous Loss Of Control And Influx Of Poverty Due To A Corrupt Federal Policy

 Federal Policy

The US policy of allotment drastically reduced Native American land as passed under the Dawes Act in 1887.

This law ruled that reservation land should be surveyed and divided amongst tribe members into individual, privately-owned packages – 168 acres per head of family.

But this system was terribly corrupt, with federal agents handing out the best allotments to those who supported government policies and selling off surplus lands to white settlers.

In addition to this, once allotment surveys had been completed, much of what was left over was sold off to white settlers.

This immensely reduced the amount of land owned by Native Americans by as much as 66 percent by 1934.

Even when the Indian Reorganization Act stopped further allotments and returned some of the allotted land back to its tribal owners, most of damage had already been done: manyNative American families found themselves in poverty and without any stable community structures.

It’s clear that the US policy of allotment significantly reduced Native American tribal lands, leaving them destitute with only a fraction of the possessions they once owned.

Native Americans Fight Bravely To Defend Their Country — And Demand Equality

Native Americans have served in both World War I and II, making remarkable contributions to the war effort.

In WWI, many Native Americans voluntarily joined the US military, even with the destructive allotment policy underway.

To this day, Native American soldiers had the highest rate of service among any minority group!

Not only that, but many enlisted in Canada too—including tribes from upstate New York who even declared war on Germany!

Native Americans were across all branches of service such as artillery loaders and cavalrymen.

Choctaw Indians used their language to pass on important military messages during WWII.

WWII also showcased a remarkable part of history when a representative from the Iroquois Confederacy traveled to Washington DC in traditional Iroquois dress and announced that his federation officially declared war on the Axis Powers—showing solidarity to their allies while strongly denouncing the inhuman disregard for life by Germany.

By 1944, over 33% of adult male Native Americans had seen action in WW2 yet still came back home to face racism and bigotry despite serving valiantly for the United States.

The American Indian Movement: Using Militarism To Fight For Native American Rights In The 70’S

The American Indian Movement or AIM was vital for Indigenous communities in the United States during the 1970s.

It was a response to systemic violence and racism faced by Native Americans like Police brutality.

Founded in Minneapolis, AIM became a huge network of young Indigenous activists determined to protect their people from discrimination.

They organized patrols to follow police around Native American neighborhoods and documented their abuse of power as well as demanding equal rights.

Also, they went on several caravans across the country which created awareness about how Native Americans were treated and even reached Washington DC.

There, they occupied offices of Bureau of Indian Affairs with protestors numbering several hundred.

At this point, Nixon refused to negotiate with them until they resorted to vandalism and threats of arming themselves if no change took place.

In order to avert further violence, he accepted discussion with an agent from CIA.

In the end AIM achieved $66,650 funding for its return home in exchange for leaving peacefully demonstrating successful activism despite facing challenges from the government.

American History

When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 was passed, it opened up a whole new world of opportunity for some Native Americans.

For the first time, they could legally operate casinos and bingo halls on reservation land, allowing them to generate profits far higher than what had been legally allowed before.

This gave them newfound economic power which could positively impact poverty rates and bring newfound prosperity to their communities.

The passing of this law truly revolutionized law for many of these tribes, who had previously had little control over their economic opportunities.

What’s more, it has also helped them build strong working relationships with state governments, leading to increased investment in reservation lands.

All in all, the passage of this act represented a massive game-changer for those who chose to take advantage of this new opportunity.

Native Americans Thriving Despite Centuries Of Adversity

Tumultuous times were thrust upon the Native American population for much of the past century.

Everything from forced assimilation and dispossession, to poorly distributed wealth meant Indigenous culture was under constant threat, but fast-forward to today and many are thriving in contemporary American society.

Take Sean Sherman for example; he is an Oglala Lakota chef living in Minneapolis who founded The Sioux Chef – a fantastic business that uses only ingredients historically available to Native American people prior to Europeans arriving, such as wild rice, squash, berries and corn.

He’s also published a book entitled ‘The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen’ interviewing tribal elders to gain inspiration from traditional recipes.

Or Chelsey Luger; she is a freelance journalist and wellness advocate who created Well For Culture – an inspiring grassroots initiative designed to promote healthy eating and exercise amongst Indigenous communities – after finding out more about the disproportionate levels of obesity, diabetes and alcoholism within the groups most effected by colonialism.

She uses savvy social media campaigns in her work too.

Lastly there’s Sarah Howes – whose parents are both Ojibwe and Creek – succeeding as an accomplished long-distance runner via Facebook running groups which she started up to inspire those around her into staying fit.

These three individuals are perfect examples of the success that is coming out of traditionally oppressed communities, displaying outwardly that their history isn’t fully encapsulated by past traumas like the massacre at Wounded Knee .

Times may have been tumultuous at one point in history but now it appears to be one where Native Americans are mastering their own future narratives.

Wrap Up

At the end of ‘The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee’, readers are left with a powerful message that the story of Native American history didn’t end after the massacre at Wounded Knee.

Far from it – instead, Native Americans have shown incredible resilience to persist in preserving their cultures.

And they certainly haven’t been stuck suffering oppression and misery under a US Government that has done its best but hasn’t managed to stamp them out.

In fact, Native Americans have achieved remarkable things in the twentieth century and beyond, and today, each new generation is not just surviving – they’re thriving!

It’s a remarkable story that serves both as an inspiration and a symbol of hope.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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