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The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

Native America from 1890 to the Present
Written by: David Treuer
Narrated by: Tanis Parenteau
Length: 17 hrs and 44 mins

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller.

"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-best-selling 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 150 Sioux die at the hands of the US Cavalry, the sense was that 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 19th 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.

©2019 David Treuer (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“In a marvel of research and storytelling, an Ojibwe writer traces the dawning of a new resistance movement born of deep pride and a reverence for tradition. Treuer’s chronicle of rebellion and resilience is a manifesto and rallying cry.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

Sweeping, consistently illuminating and personal.... 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.” (BookPage, starred) 

“Treuer is an easy companion: thoughtful, provocative, and challenging. He tells a disturbing yet heroic story that may very well be seen as a definition of ‘American exceptionalism.’” (Washington Post)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph hounarmand
  • 2019-05-01

best book

loved the book I'm glad to find a book that went into vivid detail of the history and modern of the indigenous people. creek nation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Cheryl w
  • 2019-05-04

Terrible narrator!

Struggled! Only finished because I assigned it for bookclub! I liked the last 1/3 a bit because the author was talking about his experiences and, for some reason, the narrator was less dry, dull and monotone.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ian K O'Malley
  • 2019-03-08

A great review of Native American history

This was a very insightful follow up to Dee Brown and has given me a better handle on what the post Wounded Knee world turned up... I highly recommend...