There aren’t many overt symbols in Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. However, one exception is the Wounded Knee Massacre alluded to in the title. In December 1890, the U.S. military marched hundreds of defeated Sioux men, women, and children down to Wounded Knee Creek, supposedly with the intention of transferring them to a new reservation in Omaha. According to eyewitnesses, American soldiers shot a man named Black Coyote who, it seemed to them, refused to surrender his rifle. In reality, Black Coyote was old and deaf, and didn’t understand what he was being asked to do. In the scuffle, Black Coyote’s rifle went off and the U.S. soldiers—many of whom were openly eager to hurt the Native Americans—used this as a pretext to shoot hundreds of unarmed Native American men, women, and children. The Wounded Knee Massacre has gone down in history as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the United States’ relationship with the Native Americans. It symbolizes the cruelty and sadism of the U.S. in the era of westward expansion, and could even be interpreted as a microcosm of the government’s genocidal Native American policies in general.
Wounded Knee Massacre Quotes in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
It was the fourth day after Christmas in the year of Our Lord 1890. When the first torn and bleeding bodies were carried into the candlelit church, those who were conscious could see Christmas greenery hanging from the open rafters. Across the chancel front above the pulpit was strung a crudely lettered banner: PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN.