“We rarely know the full power of words, in print or spoken. It is my hope that time has not dulled the words herein and that they will continue through the coming generation to be as true and direct as I originally meant them to be.” -Dee Brown in the forward to his 2001 edition of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” which he first wrote and published in 1971. He wrote these words in relation to the situation of Native Americans in the United States of America. I broaden their application to include the situation of all Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere and particularly, of the situations of the Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia, the most indigenous nation of the Western Hemisphere.
It is true that the power of words is great. I find the words of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” full of truth and power, in relation to the tragic, well-documented history of the interactions between white people and indigenous American people in North America. I think it is a book that should be required reading for every North American. I was first required to read it in a high school class at the American School of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I’m grateful that I was. Now, thirty five or more years later, I’m re-reading it, on an electronic reader, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, South America. I’m a U.S. citizen and happy to be one. I think “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” should be required reading for every North American worker going to work or serve in any country of South or Central America. In the histories of both Guatemala and Bolivia, for example, not to mention Brazil, there are too many parallels to the history of the Indigenous of North America.
Dee Brown’s sentences in his Forward, about the power of words, reminds me of the power of the words in the Bible, God’s words to us. They have great power too, much greater power, even, than the words of Brown’s book, if we LET God’s Word, the Bible, penetrate our hearts.