The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present

David Treuer

Book cover

This book was a great bridge for me between “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” and “There There.” In contrast to Brown’s book, Treuer depicts Wounded Knee in 1890 not as the end of Native culture and civilization, but rather as just one event in an ongoing story. I really appreciated Treuer’s foregrounding of Native agency–rather than just recounting a series of slights and setbacks visited upon Native people by the American government (of which there were certainly many), he focuses attention on how Native people have responded and adapted, and continue to do so. Much as in Orange’s book, this includes a whole spectrum of characters, and Treuer doesn’t shy away from recounting some of the less admirable actions of some in, for example, the American Indian Movement. Although this is a long book, Treuer does a great job of keeping it from becoming dry, interspersing historical information, portraiture of interview subjects, and personal and family history. I learned a lot from it, particularly about how Native sovereignty has been recast and reinvented over the years.

I was lucky enough to see Treuer speak at a book event at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn. He’s a very engaging speaker and I’d recommend looking up some of the interviews he’s done on radio programs, podcasts etc.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars