"I Am a Man": Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice
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"I Am a Man": Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  33 reviews
In 1877, Chief Standing Bear’s Ponca Indian tribe was forcibly removed from their Nebraska homeland and marched to what was then known as Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), in what became the tribe’s own Trail of Tears. “I Am a Man” chronicles what happened when Standing Bear set off on a six-hundred-mile walk to return the body of his only son to their traditional burial gr...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 20th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 8th 2008)
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It is always difficult for me to read about how Native Americans were treated by the U.S. Government. I enjoy history and being a lifelong Nebraskan, I felt this was a must read for me.
Joe Starita is a Nebraska author and I have had the privilege of hearing speak regarding his well researched documentary on the life of Chief Standing Bear and the Ponca tribe. The book chronicles the removal of the Ponca tribe from their homeland, and his 600 mile walk to return the body of his son to their sacred burial grounds. The book also chronicles his legal battle to be treated as a man, and to be granted the freedoms and rights of a citizen in this nation. While reading this book, I was...more
This exhaustively researched book reminds us of an important piece of history, the story of Chief Standing Bear and his efforts to get any kind of a fair shake from the U.S. government. It's a sad story. I found the book to be somewhat dry, with its "just the facts" style. (A PBS documentary would have been an equally appropriate and perhaps more engaging medium for the story.) Standing Bear's story is important in legal history, but I would have been more interested in a richer exploration of t...more
This is the One Book One Lincoln choice for this year. It is the story of Ponca chief, Standing Bear's struggle to return to his homeland after the government forced the tribe to move to Indian Territory.

An especially interesting point for me - one of his daughters died on the trip and is buried near my home town.

He sued the government on 14th amendment grounds and the trial boiled down to the question of whether or not Native Americans were "persons" in the sight of the government! Hence the st...more
Aug 25, 2010 Kim rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Native American Tales/ History of the west.
Fairly interesting as far as history goes. If the author could have avoided repeating what happened to the Ponca tribe so many times, the book would have been half the length. Again, editing and attempting to piece the story together kept me from really getting interested in the book.
I'm moving this book to the top of my TBR pile after hearing him speak this morning at the ARSL Conference in Omaha, NE. An amazing story teller who left the 450+ attendees spellbound with this story.
Chief Standing Bear presided over the Ponca Tribe, whose ancestral homelands were along the Niobrara River in Nebraska. This well-researched and very detailed book tells the story of the Ponca, a peaceful tribe, whose livelihood included agricultural practices. The Ponca adapted to the encroachment of the white man into Indian lands by willingly assimilating and cooperating with their white neighbors. They developed their own farms and villages, built wooden homes, sent their children to school...more
I had the honor of receiving a scholarship to attend the annual conference of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL). So back in September I packed my bags and headed to Omaha for a long weekend. The weather and the city were both lovely and my peers were insightful, sharp, and funny. I came back home with new ideas and new energy. While I was there, I also had the opportunity to meet a number of fantastic speakers – Lee Rainie, the Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet...more
Joe Starita's I Am a Man is a book full of real heroes: Chief Standing Bear himself, Susette (Bright Eyes) La Flesche, Thomas Henry Tibbles, Justice Elmer Dundy, and, somewhat counter-intuitively, General George Crook. To his credit, the author does not feel the need to construct villains here. The true antagonist of the story is the momentum of government policy untempered by oversight, understanding, common sense, and decency. It is at once a cautionary tale and and inspirational story, and it...more
Tracy Tibbels
I think anyone living in the midwest, Nebraska especially, should read this book. To be honest, I think this should be incorporated into our required American History readings, perhaps during high school (do they take American History in high school? can't remember).
I actually have even more cause to read it, being married into the Tibbels (formerly TibbLEs) family. While my husband's family are not the direct descendants of Suzette LaFlesche Tibbles (she and Tom Tibbles didn't have children to...more
This was the 2010 One Book, One Lincoln final selection. I was very hesitant to read it because I am not a lover of historical books. The first 2 chapters were a little slow, but once the book got into the struggles and the trials, it was somewhat like a Grisham novel. It is very hard to believe that the Native Americans were (and still are) treated so poorly. Great book for everyone to read. It will help you understand more about the early advancements in the rights of Americans.
The crux of this book about Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca Tribe in Nebraska, is the ruling by Judge Elmer Dundy declaring that although Chief Standing Bear was not a citizen of the United States he was still a "person" under U.S. law. This is another account of the great suffering native people had to endure when citizens of the United States took their lands but differs from other stories in the legal significance of Chief Standing Bear's case.
A solid history with flashes of interesting scholarship - for instance, letters written by Jefferson that revealed his true attitude toward Indians (not good) - and a wonderful central character in Standing Bear himself. The somewhat embroidered near-contemporary accounts of Standing Bear's trial actually diminish the drama of his story somewhat, but it's a good read, and important history.
Had the chance to have lunch and discuss his book. We argued (healthy discussion) about general crook. He was written as a hero but throughout his career he murdered thousands of Native people. Didn't agree with the positive light crook was written in. Overall he was a nice man and knowledgable over this time of American history.
Not the most entertaining book I've read, but certainly a valuable book and information that all Nebraskans, really all Americans, should have. The perseverence and patient tolerance of the Poncas was amazing. I'm so glad Patty recommended this to me.
Dana Kumpost
I didn't want to read this book. I am glad I did. Although it began as I expected; a sad story about my country's abuse of power: I came to see it as a story about growth and perseverance. It was interesting history about a man and a nation.
I really wanted to love this book. There is such good (and awful) history in it. But the writing style bad it difficult to get in to and stay with it. It was convoluted at times. I hope to pick it back up again some day to finish it.
Another very important book. This is the well-written story of the Ponca Chief Standing Bear who took the United States government to court in the 1870's and won. It has a court room scene that kept me glued to the page.
Jamie Pennington
Very interesting read. I learned a great deal about the Ponca tribe in which a few live around here in Lincoln. More live a short distance away from here. Pretty good read.
Heather Sloan
Had me in tears for some parts then angry at other then in the end I realized that in order to do something I must do something for my people and my self to help out my generation
I was appalled and amazed about this part of American history. The book was very informative, it got a little slow at the end but I would highly recommend it.
Learned a lot about a subject I found myself to have been fairly ignorant on - the fight for civil rights of Indians in our midst in the midwest and beyond.
Really good rendition of the struggles of Standing Bear and his branch of the Poncas...readable, engaging, and extremely edifying.
A fascinating account of a brave and noble man, his leadership qualities, and his daring and loving quest to save his people's homeland.
Catherine Richmond
Of the biographies of Standing Bear, this is the most elegantly written. Unfortunately no footnotes bolster the telling details offered.
The historical significance rates 4 or 5 stars but as an interesting read its a 3 star book.
This is a sad story told differently than I expected with a happier ending than I feared.
Deb Waggoner

I was able to attend a review by the author. He really brought the book to life.
Jason Walker
Jan 05, 2010 Jason Walker marked it as to-read
I started reading this book last summer, but didn't get it finished.
A great read. An historical triumph with some surprising twists.
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