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Defining Moments

American Indian Removal and the Trail to Wounded Knee

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The saga of Native American removal and relocation is a black eye on the face of American history. From the Native Americans’ first contact with European settlers to the gruesome slaughter at Wounded Knee, the relationship between natives and settlers in the United States can only be described as tragic.

Defining Moments: American Indian Removal and the Trail to Wounded Knee presents an authoritative account of the origins and progression of the American Indian Removal policy up to the massacre at Wounded Knee. It also explores the era’s lasting impact on America’s political and cultural landscape. The volume is organized into three distinct sections—Narrative Overview, Biographies, and Primary Sources—which offer a one-stop resource for student research.

  • The Narrative Overview section provides a detailed, factual account of what led up to Wounded Knee, the events and issues during the era, and its legacy in American society
  • The Biographies section presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with Indian Removal and Wounded Knee
  • The Primary Sources section collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era, including official documents, song lyrics, memoirs, editorials, and other important works

Other notable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a detailed chronology featuring page references to relevant sections of the narrative; an annotated listing of selected sources for further study; an extensive general bibliography; and a subject index. For a more complete understanding of the coverage offered in American Indian Removal and the Trail to Wounded Knee, please see the Sample Pages.

Standard Features

  • Library binding, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • 240 pages
  • 30-40 photographs and other illustrations
  • Narrative Overview section: Provides a detailed, factual account of the “defining moment”
  • Biographies section: Presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the event
  • Primary Sources section: Collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era
  • Research Topics: Proposes a list of topics suitable for conducting historical research and writing reports, a valuable starting point for student research
  • Source Attribution: Contains references for primary sources and other quoted material that guide users to other historical research resources
  • Glossary of Important People, Places, and Terms: Gives brief definitions for the many terms used in the book
  • Chronology: Highlights the related events in chronological order, along with “see” references that direct the reader to pages in the narrative with additional information
  • Sources for Further Study: Provides annotated citations for selected sources that are most useful to students
  • Bibliography: Lists books, periodicals, web sites, and videos consulted in preparing the volume
  • Subject Index: Includes people, places, organizations, events, and other topics

Research Topics

Each volume in the Defining Moments series covers a wide range of topics that students can use as starting points for further research. Potential research topics for Defining Moments: American Indian Removal and the Trail to Wounded Knee are below:

  • Investigate the factors behind the Wounded Knee Massacre, including white desires for Indian land, living conditions on reservations, and the Ghost Dance movement
  • Analyze Federal Indian removal policies and their impact on Indian tribes, with special focus on the Trail of Tears
  • Review the relations between American Indians and settlers in colonial America, from the development of the fur trade to the transmission of European diseases into Native communities
  • Discuss Westward expansion and its impact on the Indian nations of the west
  • Compare and contrast Tecumseh’s Rebellion, Red Cloud’s War, and other major conflicts in the “Indian Wars”
  • Examine the Battle of Little Bighorn, including coverage of the disastrous tactics of Custer and the motivations of his Indian foes
  • Summarize the Dawes Act and the devastating impact of “allotment” on tribal fortunes
  • Describe Indian boarding schools and their impact on families and tribal communities
  • Review the Indian Reorganization Act and its impact on Indian families and communities
  • Describe Native activism during the 1960s and 1970s, including the rise of the American Indian Movement
  • Analyze American Indian life in the 21st century, from pressing social problems on reservation communities to the growth of Indian-owned gambling casinos


“This well-written volume effectively explores a topic of intense historical debate. Fascinating sidebars add significantly to the text by highlighting various episodes, actors, and opinions from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s condemnation of Indian removal to L. Frank Baum’s call for the extermination of the Indians. … The well-selected sources add a prospective that provides readers with valuable information about the evolution of United States-Native American relations over the years.”

—School Library Journal, Mar ’11

“American Indian Removal and the Trail to Wounded Knee is the latest installment in the Defining Moments series of invaluable resources chronicling important events in America’s history. … [A] detailed, practical, user-friendly historical compendium, highly recommended for public and college library reference shelves.”

—Library Bookwatch, July ’10

“The authors, Kevin and Laurie Collier Hillstrom, succeed in their effort to provide an objective and balanced account of a shameful period in American history. … The Hillstroms succeed in packing a lot of easily accessible and useful information into only 250 pages.”

—American Reference Books Annual, 2011

“American Indian Removal and the Trail to Wounded Knee is a remarkable and highly recommended addition to American history collections, especially those with a nod to Native American studies.”

—Wisconsin Bookwatch, July ’10