One of the two books I read over the summer was “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown. This book used council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions to illustrate the destruction of the American Indian tribes between the years of 1860 and 1890.
Chapter one, titled “Their Manners Are Decorous and Praiseworthy,” elaborates on the events following the meeting of the white settlers and the American Indians. When Columbus first came across the Indians, he described them as “tractable and peaceable”. The Europeans decided that they were superior to the Indians, and that because the Indians were “inferior” they should adopt the European ways. Whether the Indians wanted to change or not was of little importance to the settlers, as European ways of life were forced on them.
Andrew Jackson, who took office in 1829, recommended that the Indians should be separated from the white settlers as the two could not live in peace together. The Indians would be moved to a “permanent Indian frontier” west of the Mississippi River. This recommendation became law two years later. However, new settlers had already began settling in Wisconsin and Iowa. So the “permanent Indian frontier
A Navaho by the name of Manuelito and other leaders of his tribe had made peaceful treaties with the Americans. Sensing that they were in danger, the Indians of this tribe tried to join the Cheyenne and gather around the white flag for safety. After reading this book, I feel a genuine sympathy for the many Indian tribes that were destroyed during the nineteenth century. Then the Americans decided to build a fort on Navaho land. On November 29, 1864, one of the most important battles discussed in this book took place. The events that followed would eventually become known as the Sand Creek Massacre. The massacre at Wounded Knee resulted in the death of Big Foot and the estimated death of 300 Indians. Months later, Manuelito and his ally Barboncito assembled a force of over a thousand warriors and surrounded Fort Defiance. "The prairie is large and the bullets will not go toward you. Many survivors of the massacre still bore the scars that the white men had inflicted upon them. The soldiers scalped the Indians, mutilated them, and butchered children and infants. Nearby, there was a camp belonging to the Arapaho tribe. On December 28, Big Foot led a group of his fellow Sioux to seek protection at the Pine Ridge Reservation.