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‘An informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait… 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’ New York Times Book Review, front page

The received idea of Native American history has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U.S. Cavalry, the sense was, but Native civilization did as well.

Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear – and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence- the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention.

In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes’ distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering that put the lie to the myth that Indians don’t know or care about property. The forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the US military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is the essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era.


If you enjoyed There There by Tommy Orange, read The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee Treuer's forthcoming counternarrative blends memoir - a retelling of his own family and tribe's experiences - and in-depth, detailed reporting on 125 years of native history.
Washington Post
A sweeping history of Native American life from the Wounded Knee massacre to the present-disputing the commonly held belief that the infamous 1890 massacre destroyed the Native American population and spirit. Treuer, whose mother is an Ojibwe Indian and who grew up on the reservation before leaving to attend Princeton, presents a more nuanced and hopeful vision of the past and future of Native Americans
Vanity Fair
Almost 130 years on from that massacre in the snow of South Dakota, Treuer finds that the Indian heart is still beating, and its people are finding ways to be not just in America, but of America.
Sunday Times
[Treuer's] scholarly reportage of these 125 years of Native history...comes to vivid life for every reader.
Booklist (starred)
Treuer provides a sweeping account of how the trope of the vanishing Indian has distorted our current understanding of Native peoples. Instead of seeing Wounded Knee as the final chapter, he recovers the importance of World War II, urban migration, casinos, and the computer age in reshaping the modern Native American experience. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is written with conviction and illuminates the past in a deeply compelling way.
Nancy Isenberg, author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
Treuer ... is a wonderful novelist, and if anybody can tell this story in the way it needs to be told and retold, until the end of time, he can
David Treuer offers an examination of Native American history. His book follows Dee Brown's 1970 work Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and explores more recent Native history. He uses his background as an anthropologist as well as his own experience growing up Obijwe on a reservation in Minnesota.
An ambitious, gripping, and elegantly written synthesis that is much more than the sum of its excellent parts - which include a rich array of Native lives, Treuer's own family and tribe among them - The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee brings a recognition of indigenous vitality and futurity to a century of modern Indian history.
Philip J. Deloria, Professor of History, Harvard University
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is the essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era.
The Rumpus
Treuer chronicles the long histories of Native North America, showing the transformation and endurance of many nations. All American history collections will benefit from this important work by an important native scholar.
Library Journal (starred)