Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee


Dee Brown

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee makes teaching easy.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Themes

Themes and Colors
Genocide Theme Icon
Expansion and Manifest Destiny Theme Icon
Law and Property Theme Icon
Resistance and Violence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is a book about genocide, the deliberate and systematic murder of an ethnic group. The title of the book refers to the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, when U.S. troops marched hundreds of followers of Sitting Bull to Wounded Knee Creek, which is located inside the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. There, the troops shot and killed more than three hundred Native Americans, many of them children…

read analysis of Genocide

Expansion and Manifest Destiny

Dee Brown makes a convincing case that the U.S. government’s Native American policies in the 19th century were genocidal. But American leaders (at least for the most part) weren’t explicit about the destructive intent of their country’s policies. Sickeningly, they used propaganda to give a benign and even moralistic gloss to policies that were, in their effects, genocidal. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny was perhaps the most important form of ideology that was used to…

read analysis of Expansion and Manifest Destiny

Law and Property

For most of the 19th century, the government of the United States was locked in a land dispute with the Native American population. In the 1830s, during the Andrew Jackson presidency, the U.S. government passed the infamous Indian Removal Act, which ordered all Native Americans to relocate west of the Mississippi River. Though the Supreme Court found the law to be unconstitutional, the Executive Branch continued to enforce it, relocating large numbers of Native Americans…

read analysis of Law and Property
Get the entire Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee PDF

Resistance and Violence

During the period of time covered in Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, the United States government colonized much of North America using a mixture of political hypocrisy, racism disguised as patriotism, and outright violence. Native American tribes resisted this aggression in a variety of different ways. Some of them tried to use legal, political means to negotiate with government representatives, while others turned to forms of religious mysticism, such as the Ghost Dance…

read analysis of Resistance and Violence