The book focuses on Native American lives in the United States and Canada, mainly after 1900, though a few older figures are included because their lives evoke strikingly modern themes. The author, an expert on all things Native American, knows (or knew) several of the people in the entries, adding a special vibrancy to the writing. Among those profiled are former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, activist Eloise Cobell, and controversial political prisoner Leonard Peltier, as well as writers, artists, and musicians. The compilation also includes non-Native Americans whose lives and careers impacted Indian life.