Philip Burnham, in Song of Dewey Beard: Last Survivor of the Little Bighorn, has written an accessible and readable biography of Dewey Beard (also known as Many Wounded Holes, Wasu Maza, and Putinhin). Beard, a Minniconjou Lakota man, lived through many of the seminal events that faced the Lakotas during his long life, including the Battle of Little Big Horn and the Wounded Knee Massacre. Part biography, part rumination on oral history, part history of the Lakotas in general and Pine Ridge Reservation specifically, Burnham’s work is a welcome addition to the growing list of recent biographies of Native American men and women.

The book is organized into twelve roughly chronological chapters that discuss Beard’s life, which spanned nine decades within two different centuries (ca. 1862–1955). He was born near Niobrara, Nebraska and spent his early years hunting buffalo across the...

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