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FINALIST FOR THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARDLONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERNamed a best book of 2019 by The New York Times, TIME, The Washington Post, NPR, Hudson Booksellers, The New York Public Library, The Dallas Morning News, and Library Journal. Chapter after chapter, it's like one shattered myth after another. - NPR An informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait... Treuer's powerful book suggests the need for soul-searching about the meanings of American history and the stories we tell ourselves about this nation's past.. - New York Times Book Review, front page A sweeping history--and counter-narrative--of Native American life from the Wounded Knee massacre to the present. The received idea of Native American history--as promulgated by books like Dee Brown's mega-bestselling 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee--has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U. S. Cavalry, the sense was, but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear--and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence--the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes' distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering that put the lie to the myth that Indians don't know or care about property. The forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the US military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is the essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era.
- ISBN-13: 9781594633157
- ISBN-10: 1594633150
- Publisher: Riverhead Books
- Publish Date: January 2019
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Page Count: 528
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee
BookPage starred review, February 2019
Perhaps the most amazing fact about American Indians is that they still survive to this day. Most American Indians regard themselves as indigenous peoples whose land was invaded by European colonial powers. For them, boastful expressions such as “the winning of the West” hearken to the violence, breaking of treaties, introduction of disease and the terror unleashed by settlers and military forces. In his sweeping, consistently illuminating and personal The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, David Treuer, a member of the Ojibwe tribe, offers a compelling counternarrative to popular U.S. history with a combination of reportage, interviews and memoir about American Indian life in the recent past.
After the United States cavalry massacred 150 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota in the winter of 1890, marking the last major armed conflict between Native American tribes and the U.S. government, it seemed that their culture was at an end. But it survived, albeit with new challenges. Treuer reveals the richness and diversity of Native Indian life and the complexity with which Indians understood their past, present and future after 1890. Native Americans survived for centuries after settlers arrived, displaying a supreme adaptability and toughness, qualities that were crucial between 1890 and 1934, when the government’s weapons against them were cupidity and fraud. Most American Indians did not become citizens until 1924.
There is much to learn here, including the government’s misguided attempts to solve the “Indian problem,” the positive and negative aspects of the American Indian movement and the protest at the Standing Rock Reservation against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Treuer, who grew up on a reservation in Minnesota, offers reflections on the casino business on reservations and why Indians don’t have a Martin Luther King-type leader.
This engrossing volume should interest anyone who wants to better understand how Native Americans have struggled to preserve their tribes and cultures, using resourcefulness and reinvention in the face of overwhelming opposition.
This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.