Monday, April 29, 2013

Indian Wars, Wounded Knee Massacre, & Berger's Little Big Man

From Saturday's BBC article "To whom does Wounded Knee belong?:"
Part of the historical site at Wounded Knee is up for sale. Should it be developed as a landmark or left in peace out of respect for the Sioux people who died there?
Almost as soon as the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee was over, the battle to define what happened on that bleak December day began... [A]s many as 300 unarmed men, women and children were killed. And official reports from some in government criticizing the massacre were simply buried.
For the Sioux descendants still living in the Pine Ridge reservation, who remember first-hand accounts of the atrocity, the news that a key part of that painful history could be sold outside the tribe has come as a shock.
A 40-acre parcel of land that's part of the massacre site is up for sale, and its owner has given the tribe until 1 May to come up with the $3.9m (£2.5m) asking price. If they don't, land owner James Czywczynski says he will be forced to accept one of several offers he has already secured from commercial buyers, who may attempt to capitalize on the land as a tourist attraction.
For a novel about the Indian Wars (including massacres like Wounded Knee), try Thomas Berger's Little Big Man:
'I am a white man and never forget it, but I was brought up by the Cheyenne Indians from the age of ten.' So starts the story of Jack Crabb, the 111-year old narrator of Thomas Berger's masterpiece of American fiction. As a "human being", as the Cheyenne called their own, he won the name Little Big Man. He dressed in skins, feasted on dog, loved four wives and saw his people butchered by the horse soldiers of General Custer, the man he had sworn to kill.
As a white man, Crabb hunted buffalo, tangled with Wyatt Earp, cheated Wild Bill Hickok and survived the Battle of Little Bighorn. Part-farcical, part-historical, the picaresque adventures of this witty, wily mythomaniac claimed the Wild West as the stuff of serious literature.

You also might like Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake:
Ordered to hold an abandoned army post, John Dunbar found himself alone, beyond the edge of civilization. Thievery and survival soon forced him into the Indian camp, where he began a dangerous adventure that changed his life forever.

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