... an informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait of 'Indian survival, resilience, adaptability, pride and place in modern life.' Rarely has a single volume in Native American history attempted such comprehensiveness ... Treuer adeptly synthesizes [several] recent studies and fashions them with personal, familial and biographic vignettes. He works hard to connect the past with those who live with its ongoing legacies ... Through the book’s second half, recounting developments since World War II, Treuer’s counternarrative to Brown takes its fullest form. In particular, his detailed assessments of what he calls 'becoming Indian' highlight the resiliency and dynamism of contemporary tribal communities ... Ultimately, 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.
Readers in search of conventional history may be disappointed, for although somewhat chronological the book’s structure is hardly linear, and the historical content, while sound, is minimal ... impassioned ... 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.'
This retelling [of the beginnings of European contact] is the weakest part of the book, although there are some nice historical tidbits ... The author shines, instead, when he heads out on the road to meet with his relatives at Leech Lake or members of other tribes across the country. There are a delightful collection of characters ... [Treuer] succeeds in this fine and timely work. It will certainly help usher in a new narrative for Native Americans.
Treuer blends a scholar’s tenacity with vivid reportage and personal anecdotes, but beneath his compassionate storytelling a magma of anger flows ... Treuer movingly probes the horrors of Indian boarding schools, for instance, a project dreamed up by well-meaning white progressives but destined to rip apart thousands of families, scores of children forever cut off from their parents ... The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee looks back unflinchingly at the suffering and self-reliance of Indians, sifting fresh insights from well-trod soil ... Beautifully written and argued, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee dares to imagine, even in our own cynical time, the arc of history bending toward justice.
... 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.
... sweeping, essential ... His survey of Indian homelands and their destruction is dry but necessary, since many Americans of European descent are unacquainted with the facts ... But it is in recounting more recent history that Mr Treuer’s storytelling skills shine ... Mr Treuer’s elegant handling of this complex narrative occasionally falters ... But his writing sings when he celebrates recent gains.
However well-intentioned, this book is a disappointment. The prose is bloated, undisciplined and repetitive. Treuer seems incapable of being succinct. His talking points drown in a sea of verbiage. He quotes speeches, legal briefs and treaties at extraordinary length, when summaries would better serve his purpose. One wonders why his editors at the usually excellent house of Riverhead failed to rein him in.
... highly readable ... The author is crisp and withering on Christopher Columbus’ 'tyranny and depravity' ... The book is not perfect — too repetitious — but it is a welcome compendium of Indian voices and insights that will be fresh for many readers ... Some 150 Lakota died violently at Wounded Knee on Dec. 29, 1890, but some 200 others lived. This is the urgent story of what happened next.
Treuer methodically guides the reader along the path of Native history since that 1890 massacre ... each [phenomenon the book covers] is embellished not only by Treuer’s extensive documentation but also by anecdotes populated by members of his own family and longtime friends from Leech Lake. His scholarly reportage of these 125 years of Native history thus comes to vivid life for every reader.
Treuer presents a compelling narrative to challenge a familiar version of Native American history ... [Treuer] supports [his convictions] with a wide-ranging history, blending in reporting and memoir too, exploring how in response to each of the government’s tortuous and calamitous policies toward Native Americans, tribes showed resourcefulness, adaptability, and endurance ... Treuer doesn’t downplay their disastrous consequences — the first and foremost being the massive population loss that resulted from disease and warfare. But he does look beneath the depredations for the stories that are less often told ... Treuer is even-handed when assessing more recent developments.
... a politically charged, highly readable history of America’s Indigenous peoples after the end of the wars against them ... [a] lucid account ... A welcome modern rejoinder to classics such as God Is Red and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.