It was a book that transformed the way people thought about the Wild West and rewrote the history of the Native Americans who were dispossessed of their lands by white settlers.
Now Dee Brown's bestseller, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, has been shown on American television as a feature-length movie and is reigniting a debate over some of the most tragic and bloody episodes in American history.
The release of the film comes at a time when Native Americans are undergoing a period of turmoil and change - some tribes are growing rich on the proceeds of legalised gambling while others remain in desperate poverty.
"It is a very divided community. Gambling money has been both good and bad as some tribes have become very rich," said Professor Dawn Riggs, an expert in Native American history at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Back in 1970, when Brown's book was published, Native Americans were all but forgotten and powerless on their reservations, reduced in popular culture to stock images of whooping warriors in cowboy films or friendly farmers in Thanksgiving Day ceremonies.
Brown's book changed all that. Chapter by chapter, it chronicled the experience of individual tribes at the hands of white men. And though the characters and locations changed, the story was always the same: white treachery, the loss of Native American lands and the extermination of a culture. It has sold more than 5 million copies.
"It had an enormous impact. It changed everything," said Riggs.
Now cable channel HBO has turned the book into a two-hour epic starring Aidan Quinn, Adam Beach and Anna Paquin. The film has already been screened to Native American audiences and had its premiere in Rapid City in South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Reservation where the battle of Wounded Knee took place.
The movie scraps much of the original book and focuses on the final chapters and the efforts of the Sioux to resist white settlers on the Great Plains. It begins with the Battle of the Little Big Horn, where General George Custer was killed, and ends with Wounded Knee, which was mainly a massacre of Sioux civilians by the US Army.
One of its main characters is Charles Eastman, a Sioux doctor who was used by the US Government as an example of how Native Americans should be assimilated into the white man's world. Eastman - who does not appear in Dee's book - marries a white woman, played by Paquin.
That has led to some scepticism as to whether the book has been "Hollywood-ised" for a largely white American audience.
"I believe they wanted to add a love affair between an Indian and a white woman," said Tim Giago, a Native American journalist and author born on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
It has also taken an unromantic look at some of the main characters.
Though Sitting Bull's doomed battle with the white man is portrayed as brave and noble, he is also seen as a flawed man who could be brutal to his own people.
But such divisions and controversies are now common among a community caught in the throes of social change.
The legalisation of gambling on reservation land in 1988 has transformed the fortunes of many Native American tribes.
There are now about 360 casinos run by some 220 Native American tribes in an industry estimated to be worth about US$5.9 billion ($8.1 billion) a year.
Tribes have used the cash to provide regular incomes, build hospitals and pay for children to go to college. In some areas, notably California, that huge wealth has been turned into significant political power.
"Some of the students who come to my classes often see Indians as now all being wealthy on the back of casino operations.
"I have to tell them it is not true. It is just the latest myth," said Riggs.
Many Native Americans remain in desperate poverty. A lot of the biggest reservations, especially in the West, are far from large cities and so casinos are uneconomical. These tribes, including the Sioux, remain among the poorest inhabitants of America. Giago says they have suffered not only at the hands of white men but also at the hands of richer tribes whose wealth is not shared.
"In some ways we are suffering a backlash, because now everyone thinks every Indian is rich," he said.
Giago hopes the film will remind some of the wealthier tribes of the sacrifices made just over 100 years ago by the Sioux.
"My people fought and died so that they could now be rich," he said.
He also hopes the film will mimic the success of the book and remind white Americans that their ancestors did not arrive in an empty land.
"We are still out of sight and out of mind to most people in America.
"People in America have very short memories," he said.