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A historian interviews Jack Crabb, a 121-year-old man who claims to be the only white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn: Jack, a 10-year-old orphan lost with his sister Caroline, is found by the Cheyenne Indians. When Caroline escapes, Jack is left under the fatherly guidance of Old Lodge Skins. During adolescence, he saves the life of Younger Bear in a raid against the Pawnee Indians and is given the name Little Big Man. At the age of 16, he is about to be killed in a battle against white men when he renounces his Indian background in order to save himself. Subsequently, he is taken into the home of Rev. Silas Pendrake and his wife, who is eager to introduce Jack to the pleasures of sex. After leaving the Pendrakes, he goes into business with Allardyce T. Merriweather, a hawker of patent medicines, and later briefly becomes a gunfighter known as the "Soda Pop Kid." He becomes friends with Wild Bill Hickok, but after one of Hickok's bloody gunfights, Jack decides to settle down. Olga, a Swedish woman, becomes his bride, and Jack opens a haberdashery, but he is cheated by his partners. Following the advice of Gen. George Custer, he decides to head West to seek his fortune. During the trip, however, Olga is abducted by the Indians, and Jack searches for her, joining Custer's U. S. Cavalry unit as a scout to facilitate his search. During a savage attack on the Indian village where he once lived, Jack deserts his unit and finds an Indian woman, Sunshine, in the process of giving birth. They travel to a reservation, headed by Old Lodge Skins, now blind from a battle wound. A year later, at a reservation, Sunshine is about to give birth to Jack's child. Jack is surprised to discover that Olga and her new husband, Younger Bear, are neighbors. The morning after Jack has slept with Sunshine's three widowed sisters, Sunshine shows him his new son. But Custer suddenly strikes, and only Jack and Old Lodge Skins survive. Jack tries to take revenge on Custer and sneaks into the general's tent, but Custer's vulnerability causes Jack to falter, and he wanders off, eventually becoming an alcoholic. A brief encounter with Wild Bill helps Jack get back on his feet, but when Hickok is shot down, Jack goes off to become a hermit. Later, he meets up with Custer, who hires him as a scout. Despite Jack's advice and the opinions of the officers, Custer orders the attack on Little Big Horn; the Cheyenne massacre Custer's forces, although Jack is saved when he is recognized by Younger Bear. He is taken back to Old Lodge Skins, who is in the process of preparing for his death ritual; he takes Jack to the mountain and lies down to die, but rain begins to fall, and Old Lodge Skins realizes that his time has not yet come. The two men walk back down the mountain. Jack finishes his story, but the historian is skeptical about the accuracy of the events.