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“I Am a Man” from the One Book One Lincoln List

Over the weekend, I finished “I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice” by Joe Starita.

I confess–all along it’s been my favorite for One Book One Lincoln due to its Nebraska connection, important story, and local author. Voting has closed, and we will announce the One Book One Lincoln selection in mid-September, so the suspense continues.

I was somewhat familiar with the Standing Bear story, of his role in the legal case in the late 1800’s establishing that Native Americans had rights in the sight of United States law. Starita places Standing Bear within the context of the United States of the nineteenth century and his place as a Ponca leader. The “journey for justice” referred to in the title is both literal and figurative. Starita details the Standing Bear’s route from Nebraska to Oklahoma and back, as well as the journey in court, establishing whether the United States government had the right to tell Standing Bear and his people where they could live.

There’s a strong sense of the distinct personalities of the people involved, and Starita does justice to placing them in the context of their time and place.

I’ll recommend this to people who enjoy reading about history and biography. It’s a story that all Nebraskans should know, and I’m delighted that One Book One Lincoln has placed it and its author in the limelight.

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