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February 2015 Vol. 52 No. 6

University of Nebraska Press

The following review appeared in the February 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
History, Geography & Area Studies - North America

2014-17332 CIP
Burnham, Philip. Song of Dewey Beard: last survivor of the Little Bighorn. Nebraska, 2014. 247p bibl index afp ISBN 9780803269361, $26.95.

Burnham (composition, George Mason Univ.) traces the life of the Lakota Dewey Beard (1858–1955) from his teenage years to his death in his nineties.  Beard, who went by several other names, which can be confusing, personally represents the fate of the Lakota people after the defeat of Custer at the Little Bighorn.  His memories of Wounded Knee are especially heartbreaking.  During his long life, Beard spent time in Canada, toured with Buffalo Bill Cody, farmed an allotment, posed for tourists' photographs, fought unsuccessfully for compensation for Wounded Knee, lived in poverty, never learned to speak English, and outlived all his children.  Through his personal interviews, Burnham does an excellent job of bringing Beard to life and capturing his personality.  He remains a much-respected figure in Lakota history, but none of his descendants can afford a headstone to mark his grave.  The entire book is well-written, and the last two chapters, which summarize the man and his life, are especially effective.  However, in some of the later chapters, the author introduces so many friends and relatives that it is hard to sort them out.  Especially for libraries with large Native American collections.

--J. A. Boughter, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.