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I am a man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice” by Joe Starita Analysis

The following paper analyzes lifestyle and other related matters of the Ponca tribe with the context of a 2009 book named “I am a Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice” written by Joe Starita. Throughout the book, Starita explicates different incidents that took place in 1877 when an Indian tribe, Chief Standing Bear’s Ponca, was forced to vacate Nebraska, their homeland. Therefore, they marched to another strange Indian Territory that is widely known as Oklahoma today. To establish familiarity between readers and the Ponca tribe, Starita ascribes their way of living as well as the underlying characteristics of their tribe.

Ponca people occupied Nebraska and South Dakota “for as long as anyone could remember” (1) and featured an intricate cultural backdrop and practices for generations. They lived in earth lodges built in the shape of a dome and used “buffalo-hide tipis” (1) as a residential solution. Ponca nurtured the floodplain and enticed the hunting. They usually foraged in valleys and hills to accumulate edible fruits and plantations. Ponca knew the myriad ways to heal and cure injuries and diseases by utilizing herbs and other botanical resources. Their children were subject to be carried along with their mothers in cradleboards so they could communicate with their surroundings. Rough-field hockey and hand games were popular among the Ponca people, and they practiced specific religious rituals and societal dances. Moreover, Ponca’s different warrior groups persuaded different sets of rules. Ponca people indulged in the art of storytelling and hearing as well.

The Ponca people’s lives were uncomfortable because of their strict cultural aspects, and the lack of resources and evacuation of their homeland made matters worse for them. Before the removal, Ponca had signed treaties with the USA to protect itself from rivals in the exchange of partial lands. However, in 1877, despite all pacts, the US government removed Ponca and other indigenous tribes as the result of ethnic cleansing. Consequently, the Ponca tribe confronted the terribleness of an inhospitable setting and suffered from substantial losses due to starvation and severe health issues.

Work Cited

Starita, Joe. “I am a man”: Chief Standing Bear: a native sons search for justice. St. Martins,



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