I Am a Man
Not many people are as passionate about American Indians as Joe Starita is. When Joe Starita was younger, he loved learning about them and often wished he was of American Indian decent. He may not have gotten his wish but he was able to raise awareness of the Native American history. He chose to do one of the biggest achievements an Indian ever had done, proved that American Indians were human. Joe Starita said that when he was writing this book he tried to get every detail perfect because that is what he thought the Ponca tribe deserved after suffering the way that they did. In the course of this book, readers learn that the Ponca were starved, frost bitten, and even murdered. Young children and even Standing Bear's own son suffered the consequences of not being able to even speak their mind.
In the book I Am a Man the reader is introduced to the Ponca tribe. They are a peaceful tribe but it seems that there is always something that is troubling them. There is the Lakota tribe that often steals their horses and destroys their crops, the harsh Nebraskan weather, and of course the white man. The Ponca were happy to sign treaties for the US Government in order to stay peaceful, but each and every treaty was broken. Perhaps it was because of the corrupt Indian Affairs Bureau and official, Inspector E. C. Kemble, who would lie to his officials and let the Ponca suffer. Finally, the US Government forced the Ponca to move out of their homelands so that their lands could be given to their worst enemies, the Lakota. That is when Chief Standing Bear decided to take matters into his own hands. Chief Standing Bear decided to get his people home and in order to do so, he had to prove to the US Government that he was human and deserved to be treated like one. Chief Standing Bear went to court with an Omaha tribe member, Bright Eyes, and had help from General George Crook to defeat the US Government.
The court case was a big mile stone for the rights of Native Americans. After this case, they had a right to sue the US Government. Now it didn't solve every problem as the book explores into to, for example they still weren't considered US citizens. The case also didn't give Chief Standing Bear his homeland back. The Ponca had to continue fighting, and they continue to fight to keep their traditions a part of each tribe members' way of life. Thanks to Chief Standing Bear though, the Ponca and all Native Indians are considered human.