This book begins with the tragedy of Wounded Knee. In another volume of the American History Series, Farewell My Nation, The American Indian and the United States, 1820–1890 (1990), Philip Weeks employs the same event to start his analysis. Books such as Farewell My Nation, Robert Utley's The Last Days of the Sioux Nation, and Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, use Wounded Knee to mark the end of a long story. Until recently, for most students of American Indian history, Wounded Knee sounded the death knell of Native life within the United States. In the deaths of Lakota men, women, and children on the Pine Ridge reservation in December 1890, the final chapter of the so-called “Indian wars” had been written, and Indians as identifiable peoples appeared destined for disappearance.
Indian communities endured great hardships and suffered enormous losses in the nineteenth century. And yet, as we near the end of the twentieth century, we can perceive more clearly that the final years of the 1800s comprised a more complicated scenario than usually has been presented. The end of the nineteenth century