Where can I learn more about Native American History during the 19th. Century?
July 22, 2005 9:51 PM   Subscribe

This evening I watched the final episode of "Into the West" on TNT. After watching the series, I realize that I know very little about Native American history - most particularly during the period depicted - roughly 1827 - 1892 [PDF]. What resources (books, DVD's, etc.) do you recommend from which I can learn more - particularly from a Native American perspective?
posted by ericb to Education (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I just watched the Ken Burns series The West. It was very good.
posted by Chuckles at 9:53 PM on July 22, 2005

History Channel just did a show over last weeked on Chief Black Kettle and the Cheyenne nation. By the end of it, if you weren't in frustrated tears of rage, you weren't watching.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:37 AM on July 23, 2005

The internet is full of sites on Native American history and culture, many are sites maintained by various Indian nations themselves. It is often best to rely on native-run sites when learning about Indian history on the web. One of the oldest and best native run sites is Lisa Mittens' link collection and also Karen M. Stroms Index of Native American resources on the Internet.

Native Languages of the Americas, run by a Cherokee, despite its language focus, has lots of good links on history - although it is still incomplete, having mostly an Algonquian and Cherokee focus so far.

This site is often linked to from native run sites, a very comprehensive but still incomplete history of many nations.

Andrew "Dubya" Jackson's Indian Removal act of 1830 set the tone for much of what was to come in the next 50 years. The wars of the plains, culminating in the reservation system, are pretty well covered in Dee Brown's widely available book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
posted by zaelic at 4:53 AM on July 23, 2005

The Trail of Tears is a good book about the removal of the Cherokee from the southeast. Books by Vine Deloria can be god or bad, but are always enjoyable to read. Red Earth White Lies takes on some of the scientific theories more contentious to Indians: teh Bering Land bridge, Indian's hunting animals to extinction, the descent of man. It's interesting for it's perspective, although the alternative theories seem weak at best.
posted by OmieWise at 5:07 AM on July 23, 2005

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
posted by box at 6:51 AM on July 23, 2005

Let me second Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Dee Brown's other books are also worth considering). Some of Howard Zinn's work might be worthwhile, and likewise Black Elk Speaks.
posted by box at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2005

Oops--disregard my first comment.
posted by box at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2005

I'd also recommend Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, it is a really fascinating book, though more from a historical perspective than a Native perspective. In other words, it is a well balanced book, and the truth is pretty ugly.

For a Native American perspective, I'd recommend The Autobiography of a Great Patriot Warrior: Geronimo, His Own Story.

I'd also point out that the fascinating struggles of Native Americans goes on to this day. Wounded Knee was attacked by American forces as recently as 1973. Mary Crow Dog wrote an easy to read little book about the US Marshall's siege at Pine Ridge called Lakota Woman. There are many other excellent books by Natives about their current struggles.

I'd recommend the author Sherman Alexie, especially his book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven for a current perspective from a Native American. Stories from the book were made into the movie Smoke Signals. His poetry is also great.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 9:26 AM on July 23, 2005

Fools Crow by James Welch. It's a novel about post-Civil War Blackfeet society. Excellent story that avoids all the pitfalls of television miniseries.
posted by rabbitsnake at 9:37 AM on July 23, 2005

>pretty well covered in Dee Brown's widely available book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Five posters have agreed on this one, and I'll make it an even half-dozen. Outstanding book.
posted by ozziemaland at 9:53 AM on July 23, 2005

As a historian of American Indians, I strongly do not recommend Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, in which the Indians are goofy powerless victims, or Burn's sloppy and confusing series The West. A good primer on native history for this period is Robert Utley's The Indian Frontier.
posted by LarryC at 9:55 AM on July 23, 2005

Prairie Edge in downtown Rapid City has a nice book section. When I visited, both the guy managing it and many of the customers were Native. They sell online too, I'm sure they'd be happy to recommend and ship items.
posted by gimonca at 11:33 AM on July 23, 2005

It's controversial, he's controversial, and it may or may not be from a "Native" perspective, but to get one motivated to pursue the questions here, Ward Churchill's A Little Matter of Genocide is a must read, just as Dee Brown's book is. There is no one right way to view this history, one correct "Indian" way no less. I think LarryC's being a bit polemical above, and would agree one has to read Bury My Heart (and Churchill) not for last words but for influential perspectives on a very complicated subject. Even more so than with this history of African slavery in the US, the history of the colonial encounter with inidgenous Americans is a history of many different cultures, languages, modes of subsistence, political institutions, etc. No one speaks for all Inidians in all places at all times. So get prepared to read widely, and kudos for raising this topic.
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:33 PM on July 23, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you for all of the recommended resources. I welcome even more. [This is why I like MetaFilter so much!]
posted by ericb at 7:18 PM on July 23, 2005

Black Elk Speaks, Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions, Killing Custer by Welch and Stekler, Lakota Noon. The Sioux by Hassrick, which is mainly an anthropological work.
posted by raaka at 1:35 AM on July 24, 2005

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