The author of The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer (1976) slices another piece of history to the bone. In 1890, fourteen years after Little Bighorn, the Plains Indians, wearing oddly painted shirts, begin to dance, invoking the imminent messiah who will restore to them their ancestors, their buffalo, and their land rid of whites. The whites--farmers, soldiers, sensational journalists, blundering Indian agents--are afraid. And Indians--racked between the strange worlds of their red fathers and their whitening children--are divided. Against this background, Jones narrates events at Standing Rock, North Dakota, where a tenuous balance is held by the vivid people of this book: the sympathetic agent known among the Indians as Father Whitehair; the young Sioux who serves in the whites' police but is not quite ready to be a white man; the straight-backed lady schoolteacher who cares for one Indian as well as many; the easygoing military commander; and the leader of the nearby ghost dancing camp--Sitting Bull. But the order comes down to arrest Sitting Bull. In the event, those who mean no harm cause disaster, the best are lost, and it is hard to tell the difference between courage and flight. Everyone is changed. This is a terse, understated but unstoppable account of the end of an historical age, an enthralling elegy for a people ""who were here--and are gone.