Column: Hearing Dr. Eastman, over 100 years later
"HBO's take on one of the most notorious massacres in American history, the 1890 slaughter by the 7th Cavalry of 300 Lakota Indians on a snow-covered South Dakota knoll above a creek known as Wounded Knee, begins airing at 8 Sunday night.

The film is called "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." The title comes from the late Dee Brown's 1970 polemic about centuries of genocide against American Indians. One of the film's main characters is a fascinating Minnesotan, a college-educated Indian physician and influential native author named Charles Eastman. His life was lived in a turbulent effort to mediate the conflict between Indian tribes and a white government determined to either take Indian lands and pressure the tribes into adopting white culture, or to take the lands and destroy the Indians.

A lot of government officials believed the second plan was easier.

Eastman was a Dakota (eastern bands of the "Sioux" spoke Dakota, western bands spoke a variant known as Lakota) who was born near present-day Redwood Falls in 1858, the year Minnesota became a state. He was just a child when his family fled to Canada after the 1862 Dakota war on the Minnesota frontier, barely escaping a punitive military expedition.

Eastman's life spanned the decades-long war between the government and the Sioux, from its bloody origins here to its gruesome conclusion at Wounded Knee, where Eastman was serving as the reservation doctor. It wasn't just the members of Chief Big Foot's band who died in the bloody snow at Wounded Knee. It was the dream of people like Eastman that the long war between the government and the Indians could end without Indian culture being brutally crushed."

Get the Story:
Nick Coleman: Dakota doctor's dreams for his culture died at Wounded Knee (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 5/27)

Relevant Links:
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, HBO -
Adam Beach, official message board -

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