Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 180
Forman merges two historical Yellow Birds [in The Life and Death of Yellow Bird]—one the son of Custer and a captive Indian princess, the other a medicine man follower of the Ghost Dance religion which precipitated the massacre at Wounded Knee…. Through Yellow Bird's eyes, the figures of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and others take on truly heroic proportions and his dreams invest the people's last stand with the grandeur of epic tragedy. This must be balanced against the novel's somewhat excessive self-importance, of which Yellow Bird's symbolic parentage is the best example: he is not just half white, but the son of General Custer himself; yet the significance of this remains ambiguous. Though more ambitious this is somehow less moving than Forman's more modest, gentle People of the Dream. While imposing on its own terms, The Life and Death of Yellow Bird is so starkly one-dimensional that one prefers to admire it from a distance.
"Young Adult Fiction: 'The Life and Death of Yellow Bird'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1973 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XVI, No. 22, November 15, 1973, p. 1272.