Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

The American Experience

  • Last Stand at Little Bighorn
  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $59.95
  • Date: Copyright 1992. Released 1992.
  • Descriptors: Custer, George Armstrong. Indians of North America. Little Bighorn (battle). United States - History - 19th century.
  • Production Information: Live action, Stills. Produced by Paul Steckler. Color, b&w. Includes Guide. Closed captioned. 60 min.
  • Production Company: The History Consortium
  • Available from: PBS Video 1320 Braddock Pl. Alexandria, VA 22314-1698 (703)739-5380
  • ISBN: ISBN 0-7936-0906-2.
  • Cataloging: 973.82 Little Bighorn, Battle of the, 1876| |Crazy Horse, ca. 1842-1877||Sitting Bull, Chief of the Sioux, 1831-1890
  • Print Entry #: 4:1089
  • Reviewer: Mark Learman

    Many sources of American history claim there were no survivors at George Armstrong Custer's last battle. Last Stand at Little Bighorn disputes that claim. It points out that there were no US Army soldiers standing after the fight, but there were hundreds of Native American survivors of the battle. The video, part of The American Experience series produced for PBS, explores the events leading up to the battle and puts into broader context the Westward expansion at the time and how it affected the tribes in the Black Hills region. The video reveals that there were two versions of the account of the events at Little Bighorn - the white man's version and the Indian's. The video presents both accounts in a balanced presentation.

    The program draws from many of the usual sources commonly found in historical documentaries. However, the sources for some of the interviews are somewhat unique: descendants from the battle itself and participants in its aftermath. These people provide a historical human perspective of the event that sometimes is lacking in interviews with academic historians. One of the Indian descendants chants the death song taught to him by his grandfather, who was one of Custer's Indian scouts. These interviews help point out that while the events of Little Bighorn are history to most Americans, they are personal family history for some.

    The style of the video is somewhat similar to Ken Burns' series on the Civil War (Florentine Films, 1990 - see review in the Fall 1990 issue, entry no. 1:1880). Narrators read from journals of the time while the camera focuses on historical pictures and Indian ledger drawings. Unlike other presentations of this event, the video does not end with the death of Custer. The fortunes of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull are followed to their ends. In addition, Custer's widow's life is summarized. Near the end of her life, she enjoyed the benefits of the New York City highlife that the self-promoting Custer had strived for by writing about his life.

    The video could fit well within a general collection as well as a school library. A study guide with questions is included.

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