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2012 Pilster Great Plains Lecture, September 27, 2012

"Standing Bear: The Enduring Legacy of a Courageous Nebraskan"

Joe Starita

Interested since childhood in Native Americans, Joe Starita began work on a three-year project in 1992 that ultimately culminated in the April 1995 publication of The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge —A Lakota Odyssey. The non-fiction account of five generations of a Lakota Sioux-Northern Cheyenne family has received many awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

On Jan. 20, 2009, his book I Am A Man – Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice was published by St. Martin’s Press. The book, now in its third printing, is the focus of an upcoming PBS documentary, has been optioned to a Los Angeles production company as a potential feature length film and is being used as a teaching tool in classrooms from Florida to Tennessee to California as well as throughout Nebraska high schools and colleges.

Joe Starita was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a double major in English and journalism. He joined The Miami Herald in January 1979 and eventually moved to the City Desk in Miami, where he also served as South Florida correspondent for The Guardian of London.
From 1983 to 1987, Joe worked as The Herald’s New York Bureau Chief, where he received more than two dozen state, regional and national awards and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in local reporting.

He returned to Lincoln to begin a Master’s Degree program and in December 1997, Joe was appointed city editor of the Lincoln Journal Star. In July 2000, he was awarded an endowed chair in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he teaches Investigative and Depth Reporting.

These yearlong classes often focus on social justice issues. Joe has led a delegations of student reporters on fact-finding mission to Miami, Havana, Cuba, Paris, Sri Lanka and New Orleans.