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Helen Hunt Jackson and Standing Bear: A Tale of Friendship and the Plight of the American Indian
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Helen Hunt Jackson and Standing Bear: A Tale of Friendship and the Plight of the American Indian (Hardback)

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On a November night in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts, a lecture was given by Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca Tribe. It was attended by a forty-nine-year old woman who sat mesmerized as the dignified Indian told of the injustice that had driven his people from their ancestral lands. The next day the woman sent a cable to her husband at home in Colorado explaining that she would be delayed in returning. "Thankful you will be in the east on business next month," she wrote, "situation with the Ponca Indians necessitates extended time here." And so began a path that was to thrust Helen Hunt Jackson into the public eye as one of the foremost Indian policy reformers of the 19th century.

From that moment in the Brunswick Hotel Jackson was imbued with the indignation that would be the motivating factor in everything she did, thought, or wrote for the rest of her life. "I cannot think of anything else from night to morning," she wrote in a letter to a friend in 1880. "I shall be found with Indians engraved on my brain when I'm dead. A fire has been kindled within me which will never go out."

Jackson and Chief Standing Bear became fast friends and she used her considerable talents as a writer to pen her most famous work, a book entitled A Century of Dishonor. The book chronicled the injustices perpetrated against Native Americans in the United States after the arrival of European settlers through the famed Indian Wars of the 1870s and their aftermath.

Jackson's friendship with Chief Standing Bear and her daring efforts to publish a book about the broken promises of the United States government made with the Native Americans is a compelling story. During the three years it took Jackson to write the book attempts were twice made on her life. There was a lot of speculation about who tried to kill her, including many politicians who resented her association with Chief Standing Bear and the book she was working on, but no one was ever charged with the crimes.

Chris Enss is a New York Times Bestselling author who has been writing about women of the Old West for more than twenty years. She has penned more than forty published books on the subject. Her book entitled Entertaining Ladies: Actresses, Singers, and Dancers in the Old West was a Spur Award finalist in 2017. Enss's book Mochi's War: The Tragedy of the Sand Creek Massacre received the Will Rogers Medallion Award for best nonfiction Western for 2015. Her book entitled Object Matrimony: The Risky Business of Mail Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier won the Elmer Kelton Award for Best Non-fiction book of 2013. Enss's book Sam Sixkiller: Frontier Cherokee Lawman was named Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

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