poniedziałek, 19 marca 2012

Open Wounds a Native American Heritage

Open Wounds – A Native American Heritage 

by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm

NEMSI BOOKS , Pierpont, South Dakota 2009
ISBN 978-0-9821427-5-2




Copyright © 2009 by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm

Cover Design by Michael M. Michalak

Based on the Polish edition, ISBN 978-83-7167-556-0

Otwarta rana Ameryki, Wydawnictwo DEBIT sp.j., Bielsko Biala 2007

Nemsi Books - rev. 08/25/2009

Published in Pierpont, South Dakota

ISBN: 978-0-9821427-5-2

Foreword: Radosław Palonka


The publisher and author wish to acknowledge with thanks the support of

Homer Flute - member of the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Chief Executive

Officer/Trustee of the SCMD Trust, a Native American nonprofit organization.

Photographs by: Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm, Norman Boehm, Bill Groethe, Michelle Bishop,

Andrzej Bernat (Author’s back cover photo)

Special thanks to:

National Archives Collection, College Park, Maryland

Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota

Oklahoma Today

The Morning Star, Volume 46 Number 4 Fall 2008

AnthroNotes, Volume 25 Number 1 Spring 2004

Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm’s book portrays the current status and outlook of the American Indians. Resulting from 10 years of research and visits to Indian lands, the book was inspired by the writer’s great uncle Korczak Ziolkowski, sculptor of the Crazy Horse mountain carving in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The author provides a broad spectrum of Indian history, culture, traditions, subjugation, suffering, reservation poverty, failed government policies, education, emergence and the portent of a future of well-deserved dignity, respect and beginning signs of success. Personal interviews with members of the Apache, Chickasaw, Kiowa and Northern Cheyenne Nations add a potent insight into Indian feelings and opinions. Clearly evident throughout the book is Ziolkowska-Boehm’s admiration and esteem for American Indians, particularly for the pride they exhibit after suffering a “heritage of open wounds” over many years.



I was intrigued by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm’s observations of American history, Native Americans, and Indian country. The fact that they are the views of a well-educated European with a well-developed interest in such subjects, rather than of a scholarly expert or an American insider, Indian or not, adds another dimension of interest to them.
John R. Alley, PhD, Utah State University


 Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm takes us across the United States, visiting Indian Country, with insight and compassion, raising many issues along the way with the eye of a traveler from overseas (the book first appeared in Poland). Few people in this country know that the first craftsmen at Jamestown were from Poland, or that the family of Polish ancestry (relatives of hers) are carving a huge memorial to Crazy Horse in South Dakota. The book includes a number of wide-ranging interviews with people who are well known in Indian Country. This book provides fascinating reading from fresh perspectives. The interview with Rod Trahan is one of the most enlightening slices of reservation reality I have read in a long time.
Bruce E. Johansen, PhD, University of Nebraska


Good reading not only for lovers of books on Indians. It describes the history and rich culture of the indigenous peoples of America against their current situation in American society. The author tries to eradicate stereotypes, makes readers aware of Indian contributions to the history of the United States and, at the same time, emphasizes difficulties they are forced to cope with in order to preserve their autonomy and cultivate old traditions. What plays a significant role is the autobiographical aspect which explains the author’s personal commitment in Indians lives.
Wydawnictwo DEBIT, Bielsko Biala, Poland


As always, it is very well written.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, PhD, Author, National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter


The book is the result of curiosity of the Indian world, and a try to understand the problems that are facing modern Indians. The author does not stop with a critique of the current situation but tries to look for the recipe for resolution and salvation. Her attempts are shown in the second part of the book by interviews with authors who know about Indians, as well as with Indians of several Nations. Giving voice to the Indians is for sure a great attribute of her book. Not minimized is the negative involvement of the American government and its policies whom the author blames for the current situation. Also, she blames the often mistaken writing/reporting by American writers.
Radoslaw Palonka, PhD, Jagiellonian University, Krakow


Spending part of my life growing up on the Cass Lake Indian reservation and being of Cree decent, I can appreciate the message and the plight of our people contained in this book. My grandmother who was a Native Medicine Woman taught me many things growing up. Many things have been lost in our culture, which I have tried to teach my grandchildren, but I am also painfully aware of the stigma that goes along with claiming our heritage. My hope is that one day books like this will assist in peoples understanding of the hardships that the Indian people have faced in the past as well as present day, so that we many all live together with compassion towards one another.
Angela Baldwin, South Dakota


I found the book really beautifully written, touching, absorbing and scholarly. The personal connection made it even more interesting. 
Audrey Ronning Topping, Scarsdale, New York, photojournalist, author of books about China and Tibet; American Publisher 2013 Prose Award winner author


In a memorable line almost worth the book by itself, Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has written, "Only in America can a person sculpt a mountain." Her great-uncle, Korczak Ziolkowski, "a Polish orphan from Boston," began the colossal memorial to near-legendary Sioux chieftain Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Ziolkowski had a more famous predecessor. Also in the craggy Black Hills, Gutzon Borglum, an Idaho sculptor of Danish descent, carved into Mount Rushmore the images of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt; and earlier, on Stone Mountain in Georgia, the marching figures of Robert E. Lee and his Confederates. For Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm, however, the enormous sculpture of Crazy Horse is the starting point for a moving lament, framed by human faces from the land, about the conditions under which Native Americans, whose cultural and tribal lands were ravaged by settlers from abroad. Europeans, she observes strikingly, nevertheless adopted into their own culture some tribal laws and traditions from "Indians" who now live theoretically autonomous lives but in reality are wards of their conquerors--the most open of wounds.
Stanley Weintraub, Professor, author, biographer & historian


Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has done a thorough job of sharply focusing on the plight of the Native American in the U.S. and, indeed, it is a sad state of affairs.
Wash Gjebre, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, retired "Post-Gazette"staff writer


It’s sad but true that our society hasn’t even begun to realize what harm has been done to the Native Americans starting at the beginning of the European colonization here. Aleksandra’s book will be a big help, I think, for educating the American public.                                                            
Robert Ackerman, Forest Conservationist, New Alexandria, Pennsylvania


The book „Open Wounds” depicts many of the past and present problems facing Native Americans as minorities in their own country, where bias, envy and jealousies are still strong influences among the Indian people, as portrayed in the author’s story about Crazy Horse being betrayed by his own people. This still happens today. Many non-Indians are misinformed about Indians and reservations because their only source of information comes from fictional movies and books. This leads to false perceptions that stereotype Indians reservations as the typical Indian camp with teepees and the Indians as the typical “hang around the fort Indian” waiting for the handout from government. These fictional movies and books do more harm to the Indian’s dignity by categorizing him as a lazy alcoholic with no ambition. In reality, all nationalities have a percentage of their people that fit in this particular category. Government run Indian schools have been both positive and negative the positive is that the schools have educated many of our Indian youth and gave them hope for a future, but the negative aspect is that the government run Indian schools deprived the Indian youths of their cultural heritage and ancestral language. This book outlines the tragic obstacles encountered by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski while carving the statue of the Lakota Sioux war chief Crazy Horse. The sculptor experienced many similar situations that parallels the Indians’ situation.
Homer Flute, Apache, Trustee/CEO Sand Creek Massacre Descendants Trust, Anandarko, Oklahoma

“This is a complex history of the treatment and lives of Native Americans ever since the land was discovered. It contains a wealth of information the author gathered over many years from interviews, research, histories, and interviews with Native Americans or those who worked closely with them.
The plight of the Indians was caused by the American government in their treatment and disregard for their culture. People were routed to the wastelands of the continent; given reservations which the Government would withdraw if they wanted that piece of land. These reservations are usually remote areas, where the Indians received little support for housing, education or work. Consequently, many resorted to liquor or drugs. Today, there is hope for some tribes, with their casinos bringing in much-needed money. But not all tribes are so lucky. They still live without hope or inspiration.
From the early 1900s children were taken from their parents and schooled in American special schools, forcing them to speak only English and punished for any Indian rituals the children would observe. Many of these children ran away, wishing to retain their heritage. Others assimilated, went to college and returned to the reservation, with plans of improving the health and education of the reservation Indians. Some of course, disclaimed their heritage and joined the American society. Today these schools still exist, but more emphasis is now on retaining their language and culture.
The personal adventures of the author bring life to this history. Korczak Ziolkowski is a relative of Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm and she provides a history of that undertaking. The sculpture of Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of South Dakota will be ten times larger than the presidents’ heads on Mt. Rushmore. Today, the construction continues, under the supervision of Korczak’s wife, Ruth and her children. No government funds are provided, rather, funding comes from donations by project supporters around the country.
A chapter is dedicated to the Indian Code Talkers during World War II. They developed codes from the Indian language that were used in Europe and the Pacific. Philip Johnson, the son of Protestant missionaries, who grew up on a Navaho reservation, approached General Vogel with the idea of the Navaho language code. With twenty-nine Indians, a dictionary code was created which was successfully used in war areas.
The efforts of Ziolkowska-Boehm in compiling this information is to be highly commended”.

Florence W. Clowes, POLISH AMERICAN JOURNAl, Boston, NY, April 2010


Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm, author of Open Wounds reveals her perspective on Native Americans and Indian Reservations in this potpourri of stories, interviews and observations.  The fact that she is a Native of Poland and received her Ph.D. from Warsaw University makes the book in the words of  John R. Alley of Utah State University ring true: 

I was intrigued by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm’s observations of American history, Native Americans and Indian country. The fact that they are the views of a well-educated European with a well-developed interest in such subjects…. adds another dimension of interest to them.

Dr. Ziolkowska writes with compassion and passion when it comes to Native American issues.  That developed in part because it was her great-uncle, Korczak Ziolkowski, who began the monumental sculpture of Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Whether reading about her great uncle’s lifelong desire to honor Crazy Horse, or learning about the Code Talkers of World War ll, you will find Dr. Ziolkowska’s book informative, lively and packed full of interesting information. 

Finally you will find her chapter on St. Labre Indian School to be informative and reflective of her unique perspective.  Several of her interviews in the book are with people either formerly or currently affiliated with St. Labre.

Larry Cunningham, Open Wounds, THE MORNING STAR, April 2010


Ziolkowska-Boehm is a popular Polish writer with a gift for empathy and praiseworthy industriousness. Her books are numerous. By an accident of life she encountered American Indians and decided to dig deeper. The result is a very readable account of their plight and tragedy. While the tragedy is irreversible; it is good to see a book that gently lectures the winners. Ziolkowska-Boehm's book makes us reflect on the injustices of life and fate, perhaps prompting us to do a few things to remedy them.  SARMATIAN REVIEW, April 2010

I am not sure if there is any other country in Europe, where Indians are hold in a such unique esteem as in Poland. And when we add family connections with Korczak Ziolkowski, there is no surprise that Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has decided to bring up that topic. This is not only great piece of Indians’ story, this is a great piece of literature.

Michal Sikorski, former editor-in-chief of  International Relations Monthly (Poland), December 27, 2010


"Open Wounds" will bring much needed awareness to the many challenges still facing our Native Americans”.  Jesse Flis, Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians

“Aleksandra is a warm and genuine person with a flair for painting an accurate and detailed picture in your mind of many varied subjects she writes about”.
Rod Trahan, Northern Cheyenne and Salish Kootenai origin, Montana


Many books have been written about the history and cultures of Native American tribes. However, I know of no book until OPEN WOUNDS - A NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE that broadly portrays significant aspects of Native American history, cultural treatment, subjugation, suffering, failed education, etc. that has resulted in the subdued outlook for their future. With the advent of casino ownership, a minor number of tribes have obtained a degree of success financially and culturally giving their people an independence. But casinos only thrive in the populated areas. Tribes located in the remote Northern plains and Southwest desert areas do not have the opportunity to successfully operate a casino. These Indians people continue to suffer from lack of work (unemployment as high as 80%) shortages of food, health and dental services and educational facilities. The author's sadness for the circumstances of these original Americans will envelop the reader and cause a tear or two to flow in compassion for them.
Frank Appleton, BARNES & NOBLE


Always interested in the history and treatment of Native Americans, I found that Aleksandra Ziolkowska Boehm's book provided a rare and compelling insight into the outcome of ill conceived policies by the Federal Government. Native Americans have been relegated to second class citizenship in their own country. What a shame!
Peter Clark, BARNES & NOBLE

"The sad story and mistreatment of Native Americans has been well documented. But the result thereof in the current outlook for them has not... until now when Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm's OPEN WOUNDS - A NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE succinctly discloses in broad terms what has happened to them. An one example, many believe Indians are now well off because of income from casinos. Few realize that those tribes forced onto barren and distant reservation have not. The remote tribes have no casino or other sources of income, and some suffer unemployment rates up to 80% (Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation for example). Even worse treatment of Indian people has offered little, if any, opportunities for them to gain financial security. They are unable to even help themselves by use of financial aide from the wealthy tribes because state governments only allow the wealthier tribes to invest within the state the casinos are located. The list of problems goes on: health, education, welfare etc. The status of Native Americans is a gross blemish on the reputation of the U.S. in the eyes of the world. It is wonderful to have read such a book disclosing the true status of America's Indian people".
Carl Oberly, BORDERS, September 2010

"OPEN WOUNDS - A NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm presents a new and better understanding for the feelings of Native Americans and their hopes for a better future. The author uses a mechanism of broadly defining how the years of mistreatment at the hands of the Federal Government' and its misguided policies has resulted in despondency and despair. In another method of revelation, the author provides a series of interviews with real American Indians from the Apache, Chickasaw, Kiowa and Northern Cheyenne Nations. These are tribal representatives that speak with first hand knowledge of their peoples' treatment, the obstacles they themselves and others face and how they (but not all) have overcome the obstacles to achieve independence and even success. Through these interviews, the author manages to place the reader into the Indian's position and then to be able to experience their reactions, feelings and hopes. Every American would do well to read this book as it reveals another part of American's sad history where a minority was and continues to be mistreated".
Alicia Montgomery, GOOGLE BOOKS

It is a unique book - very informative and written with beautiful style. I have learned a lot about the current situation of Native Americans, that I never realized before. I wish we could do something more effective for them, to give them some perspectives in life, opportunities, particularly those to earn a living.
We owe Native Americans living on the remote reservations continue to live in poverty, ignored for years by the Federal Government. Our government always seems to be involved in other places and other countries business, not our own. Truly Open Wounds are still there.

Bill Adams, Amazon


This is the most comprehensive and totally honest description of the plight of Native Americans, or properly stated, INDIANS, that I have ever read. There is a consistent thread teeing events & their consequences.
I did think the book was expensive for a soft cover.
Amazon is the place where even obscure or O.O.D. books can be found.
Keep The Faith!!
Gidier, Amazon


Who would you rather be in your childhood: a cowboy or an Indian? It was always cooler to be the good guy the hero, the victors just like in a movie, wasn’t it? It is confirmed by a Chickasaw Indian, who the author conducted an interview with, that no child has even wanted and still does not want to be an Indian. Because in the movies it was cowboys who won, and the Indians who lost. The image of a blood-thirsty Native American, robbing the trains and attacking white settlers, copied over the centuries in the US, was finally brought homes thanks to western movies. And what is our knowledge about the native inhabitants of North America? About their life at the beginning of colonization, about the times of brutal expansion to the West, about their contemporary life? In the majority, it is based on what the television and the cinema provide us with and these are usually only a few useful pieces of information, because the issue of the American Indians does not belong to the popular one. However, even if we are willing to learn more, even full of good intentions, we can easily become tendentious, and as a result create an image of the Native Americans similar to our Polish Cepelia (Folklore and Artistic Manufacturing Center), surrender to our emotions, look from a perspective that is far from an objective one. That is why the book by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm is so important and so special. The author examined the subject not only with passion and curiosity of a traveler, but also with a journalistic professionalism. That is why her work allows us to see the life of the Native Americans without the blind admiration that covers the mistakes made by themselves. Their life is analyzed from different perspectives their own, the whites, and the historic, economic and cultural one. Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm does not feel satisfied with only one answer, avoids Sunday tourist simplicities, bores into the topic, conducts interviews, which we will find in the book partly as a whole, partly in a form of anecdotes and paraphrases. She allows us to enter the world of reservations, casinos, Indian princesses, great chiefs and ordinary people. She refutes the myths, reveals the crimes, analyzes the behind the scenes of battles, e.g. she writes about the Native American wind-talkers a phenomenon the US have only recently learned about. She makes the reader realize, how tremendous was the participation of the American Indians in the creation of the United States and what the cost of the civilization progress were. For us, the Poles, the book would be especially interesting because of the lives of our country man Korczak Ziolkowski, who participated in building of the sculpture of four American presidents, but whose greatest work is the statue of Crazy Horse (the sculpture is being continued by the family of the artist). Surely, careful readers will not miss an interesting piece of information about what links Polish tar-makers, Pocahontas and the first strike of the history of American working unions. It will be difficult to close Americas Open Wound and put it back on the shelf just like that the American Indians are still a living history, the present and the future of the United States. And ours too as descendants of the European colonists (and then immigrants) and as a humankind.
Blazej Bierczynski, Dancing with the Indians, ANGUS AND ROBERTSON   15/01/2012
I do admire your writing a great deal – it is as if you are speaking to the reader.  And I do review a great many any books
 Florence Clowes, Vero Beach, Florida, 11/22/2013
 “To the best of my knowledge, Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has written the first book that tells a story of the current status of Native Americans and their outlook for the future. Subjected to unbelievable cruelty of encroaching settlers as well as the military, the Indians have survived while subjected to the ineffective government policies and broken treaties causing disastrous loss of land and resources and loss of dignity and pride. The author most realistically has portrayed the plight of the Indians through interviews with Apache, Chickasaw, Kiowa and Northern Cheyenne tribal members. By doing this, she has provided their side of the dismal picture basis their perspective. The Indians have made an historic effort just for survival that has diminished their numbers, but surprisingly, their struggle has reversed this trend. Still, as Ziolkowska-Boehm claims, much needs to be done, and the Federal Government should be at the forefront in this effort”.
Hannah Delgado, Plight of American Indians – Also From Their Perspective, Amazon.com

Open Wounds A Native American Heritage is a remarkable story and worthy of reading by all Americans. Much has been written of the noble Indian heroes and people, their bravery and defiance to a subjugation that turned into decades of mistreatment and elimination of opportunity to live lives of honor and dignity. Federal Government policies had taken their pride away, and only through their own efforts and those of a few concerned citizens and missionaries have Indians managed to a degree to overcome their misfortune. From her interviews, the author has solicited real opinions that Indians must make a more positive effort to help themselves. Many Americans believe that the gambling riches from casino ownership benefit all tribes. They do not! Only those casinos located in heavily populated areas are money makers, and state laws prohibit those fortunate tribal owners from investment outside the state. Here is another example of where misguided policies do not permit Indians to help themselves even though they have tried this strategy.
Michele Hoening, Google

After reading Open Wounds, I could not help but thinking of a “scenario” where a novice card player (the Indians) is pitted against a smooth, crafty, professional and very skilled player (Federal Government) who literally  could deal his opponent a “hand” that held cards of no value. The Indians had no chance to win against the “card shark” they faced, a point the author makes early in the book. Virtually every act of the Federal Government in dealing with Indians was misguided, did not work, was not monitored, was not improved upon and resulted in a race of people losing their dignity, pride and a desire to better themselves. They became chattels of the government. To some extent, this condition still exists today because opportunity for employment is minimal on many reservations particularly the remote ones. What were the “bad cards” dealt to the Indians? They are too numerous to mention here, but for sure the list is longę.
John Knowles, The Indians had no chance to win, Amazon, 1 July, 2014

As Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has recommended and supported by her Indian interviewees, the most positive act the American Federal Government could take would be to “outsource” to the neediest tribes (those on the northern plains and desert areas). The chance to work, earn a living, feed, clothe and house one’s family would be a tremendous moral boost for the Indians. As "Open Wounds..." clearly discusses, and as Korczak Ziolkowski (the author’s great uncle) stated “the treatment of the American Indian is the blackest mark on the escutcheon of the American nation’s history”. Truer words were never spoken and still they are ignored by every administration that takes office. The treatment of the Indian led them into a life of handout takers. Pride and honor under this circumstance had disappeared. Granted, thanks to improved education, many have escaped the strangulation, but the majority of Indians have not. Just think, less than 1% of the Indian population have college degrees. This is a sad statistic!
This book should be read to learn the whole story! 
Ted Spears, Trove, Australia, July 2, 2014



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