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 ground. Along the way, it examines the complex relationship between the United States government and the small, peaceful tribe and the legal consequences of land swaps and broken treaties, while never losing sight of the heartbreaking journey the Ponca endured. It is a story of survival—of a people left for dead who arose from the ashes of injustice, disease, neglect, starvation, humiliation, and termination. On another level, it is a story of life and death, despair and fortitude, freedom and patriotism. A story of Christian kindness and bureaucratic evil. And it is a story of hope—of a people still among us today, painstakingly preserving a cultural identity that had sustained them for centuries before their encounter with Lewis and Clark in the fall of 1804.
Before it ends, Standing Bear's long journey home also explores fundamental issues of citizenship, constitutional protection, cultural identity, and the nature of democracy—issues that continue to resonate loudly in twenty-first-century America. It is a story that questions whether native sovereignty, tribal-based societies, and cultural survival are compatible with American democracy. Standing Bear successfully used habeas corpus, the only liberty included in the original text of the Constitution, to gain access to a federal court and ultimately his freedom. This account aptly illuminates how the nation's delicate system of checks and balances worked almost exactly as the Founding Fathers envisioned, a system arguably out of whack and under siege today.
Joe Starita's well-researched and insightful account reads like historical fiction as his careful characterizations and vivid descriptions bring this piece of American history brilliantly to life.
Joe Starita was an investigative reporter and New York bureau chief for The Miami Herald, where one of his stories was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is now a professor at the University of Nebraska's College of Journalism and the author of The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge, an account of four generations of a Lakota Sioux family, that garnered a second Pulitzer Prize nomination, won the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association Award, and has been published in six foreign languages.
— Source: St. Martin's Press
One Book One Nebraska 2012 is sponsored by a coalition of organizations including the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Humanities Council, Nebraska Library Association, and Nebraska Library Commission.
"I Am a Man" Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice, by Joe Starita is Nebraska's reading choice for the 2012 One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program. The One Book One Nebraska reading program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, is now in its eighth year. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss one book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. A committee of the Nebraska Center for the Book selected the finalists from a list of forty-eight titles nominated by Nebraskans. After receiving nominations from across the state, the Nebraska Center for the Book board announced the choice for the 2012 One Book One Nebraska at the Celebration of Nebraska Books on October 22 in Lincoln. Read more...
Two nonfiction books and three novels—all stories of America's Great Plains—are the five finalists for the 2012 One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program. The finalists are: