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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - October 23, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta Book reviews White men should hang heads in shame "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - An Indian History ot the American West" by Dee Brown (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 487 pages, $13.25.). nPHE United States of Ameri-1 ca, between the years 1860 and 1890, came dangerously close to committing genocide against an entire race of people - the American Indian. These thirty years of bloody American history have been intensely researched and painstakingly recorded by Dee Brown in one of the most soul-searching books you'll ever read. The book is "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." Brown has penned 15 other books on western history and is currently head librarian at the University of Illinois. He takes the part of the "red man," giving an insight into the Plains Indian that has never been put down in print before. Indians have always been stereotyped as ignorant savages, men � who went out and killed, raped and plundered. Then, only to return to their camps, to sit around making arrowheads and saying "ugh" a lot. Weil, Brown lifts these people, lifts them to a level they have never attained before in literature. He shows them as they were - clever, deep-feeling individuals. The result is a story that no American can be proud of. unless, of course, he's an Indian. The book is one more black eye for the U.S. It's a magnificent piece of literature, surely destined for the bookshelves of every major school and university in North America. It is a must for every American history class. Brown sets the stage for his book by first dealing with the early European settler's barbaric treatment of their "red brothers." The Dutch handed out justice to the Raritans, slaughtering two entire villages and "running bayonets through men, women and children, hacking their bodies to pieces." One Indian chief, King Philip, was killed and his head exhibited at Plymouth for 20 years; another chief, Black Hawk, had his skelton hung on view in the Iowa Territory governor's office. Which ones deserve to be called the barbarians, and which ones the Christians? The book delves specifically Into the history and troubles of the major tribes who made their homes on the vast western plains. One of the beautiful things put forward in the book is an insight into some of the great Indian leaders. Brown shows them to be human (a point not readily accepted in the 180Os), deep thinkers and deep-feeling lovers of their people and their land. One of the wisest chiefs was Sitting Bull. Always holding a special place in my mind, Sitting Bull is expanded by Brown into not only a great warrior and military strategist, but as a man with great insight into life itself. While in New York when touring with a wild west show, the great chief was always surrounded by kids, most of them from the slums. Sitting Bull was heard to observe, "The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it." Of particular interest to the people of this area will be the chapter dealing with the battle of the Little Big Horn and Sitting Bull's eventual escape into Canada. Brown deals with the attack in a short, factual manner -- I think you'll find more than a slight discrepancy from the white man's long-told story. I know which one I believe. I might also add that I didn't feel the least bit of remorse when Custer got his, es-pescially after reading of his "victory" at the Washita River. In what is really a book of broken promises, you'll follow the plight of such great men as Red Cloud, Cochise and Captain Jack, Captain Jack, after fighting for the rights of his Modoc people, was finally hung. But the thing the U.S. can be most "proud" of is the fact that Jack's body was then exhibited in the east as a carnival attraction - just 10 cents a look. A number of white soldiers are also quoted in the book. One of the most notable quotes was spewed from the lips of one General Sheridan: "the only good Indians I ever saw were dead." General Patrick E. Connor displayed a streak of "hu-manitarianism" when he ordered his men to, "attack and kill every male Indian over 12 years of age." Reservation - this was the word the Indians learned ^ despise. It was this word that caused most of the Indians' problems. The whites wanted the Indians on the reserve; the Indians didn't want to go. A poignant line referring to the land-hungry whites, which surely must touch even the hardest person, reads: "They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it." The impression is that the reserves were nothing more than huge jails, where the Indians weren't even allowed to move freely from one part of the reserve to another. Geronimo didn't like the reserve and he chose to go down into Mexico where he could move freely. The reserves were important to the white man; they wanted the Indians kept there. They wanted it so badly that they sent out 5,000 troops, 500 Indian scouts and thousands of militia just to return Geronimo and 24 of his Indians to the reserve. The missionaries were also there, bringing, among other things, the word of God. Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces argued with a commissioner, "No we do not want churches . . . They will teach us to quarrel with God." Think about it! For movie buffs, Little Big Man is mentioned in the book. His photo appears on page 309. (Its not Dustin Hoffman by a long shot). He also wasn't the character that Hoffman was in the movie. It was Little Big Man and another Indian who held Crazy Horse by the arms while he was bayoneted in the back by a soldier. It was the massacre of 300 of Big Foot's unarmed followers at Wounded Knee Creek that gave this book its name. It's rather odd isn't it, that no great movie ever came from this victory over "hostile" Indians? One of the fascinating aspects of the Indian culture is the names they give their people. They roll from the tongue, strike up visions in one's mind and, sometimes are just plain beautiful. Names like: Big Eagle, Black Kettle, Buffalo-Oafi-Road-Woman, Gatch-the-Bear, Chief-Comes-in-S i g h t, Dull Knife, Hairy Bear, Kicking Bird, Looking Glass, Morning Star, Old-Man-Afraid-of-His - Horses, Rain-in-fche-Face, Sfrnnel Horse, Two Moon, Red Tomahawk, Woman's Heart. Atrocities attributed to the Indians are many, most of them untrue, being fabrications of the money-hungry, J." > grabbing whites. It is little wonder however, that they committed brutal murder against the white man. But can the whites cry brutality, barbarianism - hardly. The whites are the ones who hung 28 San tee Sioux in a Patterns to rival Picasso -Photo by Bryan Wilson A treat for archaeology enthusiasts "The First American: A Story of North American Archaeology" by C. W. Ceram (Harcourt Brace Jo-vanovich, 357 pages, S12.50, distributed by Longman Canada Limited). CO successful has C. W. Ceram been in previous popularizations of archaeology, it will not surprise readers that he has produced another pleasing book. This one purports to deal with North American archaeology but concentrates largely on two regions of the United States and completely ignores Canada and Mexico. There is so much of interest in what is covered that few readers will complain. Familiar as I am with much of the story of North American archaeology, I discovered that there were gaps in my knowledge. Somehow I missed reading about the stone towers in the Gallina Canyon in northern New Mexico even though it was published in 1944 in The Saturday Evening Post. I had never before encountered the story of the fake "antediluvian giant" known as the Cardiff Giant, either. Although the story of Ishi, the last North American Stone Age man, may not be an archaeological subject, it seems appropriate to end the book with it. This is a very moving account of the last survivor of the Yahi tribe whose territory was near Mill Creek in California. A mere handful of survivors of the genocide practised by white settlers in the 1880s lived secretively until in 1911 Ishi appeared outside the town of Oroville and was taken into the custody of anthropologists at the University of California. Ceram is at his best in the handling of this story. Many of the myths that continue to inhabit the minds of people are commented upon by Ceram. The notion that the making of arrowheads was a difficult and time-consuming task has been shown1 to be quite wrong. They could be- and can be-made easily and in a short time. Ceram also doesn't think much of the myth of the healthy life of primitives. Disease was rampant and life expectancy short. That earlier inhabitants of the continent were devout conservationists is also to be doubted. The likelihood is that their hunting techniques, resulting in mass slaughter, is the explanation for the extinction of many kinds of animals. None of these things are meant to denigrate the Indian people. The total impact of this book is the evocation of profound respect for them. Their accomplishments were remarkable. In the realm of botany, the development of maize is an astonishing achievment. Some of their achievements in architecture and the crafts deserve high praise. The organization required to build the mounds proliferating on the landscape from Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico and from Mississippi to the Appalachians staggers the imagination - the expenditure of labor went far beyond the Egyptian acMevement in erecting the pyramids. Ceram certainly cannot be accused of being scornful of the Indians. He doesn't have much respect, however, for people today who cling to mythical notions about the Indians. One of his chapters is titled, Wild Theories from Atlan- tis to Mu, in which he briefly reviews some of the theories concerning the origins of the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North America. The Mormons will be relieved to know their revelation on this subject only gets 18 lines. In that space of writing, the common error that the Mormons believe the ten lost tribes of Israel migrated to America is corrected but a new mistake