Chief Standing Bear film receives green light to begin production

By: - December 10, 2022 4:00 am

A Choctaw Nation Color Guard representative and “I Am A Man” Director Andrew Troy at the unveiling ceremony of the Chief Standing Bear statue at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. (Courtesy of Troy Entertainment)

LINCOLN — The film “I Am A Man: The True Story of Ponca Chief Standing Bear” will include filming in historically significant locations, including in Nebraska and on the Cherokee Nation Reservation in Oklahoma, according to the Cherokee Nation Film Office. 

Direct descendants of Chief Standing Bear attend an unveiling ceremony of the Chief Standing Bear statue at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. (Courtesy of Troy Entertainment)

“The key plot of our story exists in the heart of the community surrounding Fort Omaha and the actual location where Standing Bear and the Ponca tribe were detained in 1879,” filmmaker Andrew Troy said in a statement Thursday.

“Not only do we get to make a film about Standing Bear’s journey that can reach a worldwide audience, but in doing so, we get to help uplift local communities, provide training and possibilities for ongoing jobs, and encourage tourism in and around Ponca and Cherokee lands,” he said.

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma formally approved the creation of the historical drama to depict the 1879 landmark trial of Standing Bear v. The United States of America. The trial helped establish the rights for all Native Americans to be considered “human beings” under U.S. law. In addition, various celebrity actors portraying U.S. historical figures will appear alongside prominent Native actors in the film’s ensemble cast.  

The film received support and funding from various sources, according to the Cherokee film office,  including the Cherokee Nation Film Incentive, tax incentives, the Nebraska Film Office, the Tulsa Film Offices, and the Cities of Norfolk and Fremont, Nebraska. 

Senior Chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma Oliver Littlecook, left, meets with Andrew Troy, director of “I Am A Man.” (Courtesy of Troy Entertainment)

“‘I Am a Man’ is an important Native American story that needs to be told. We are proud to offer our film incentive to such a project,” said Jennifer Loren, senior director of Cherokee Nation Film and Original Content. “CNFO looks forward to becoming a hub for Native American storytelling, and this is just the beginning.”

The passage of Nebraska Legislative Bill 1024, introduced by State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, provided the film with a one-time grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. 

The collaboration with the Cherokee Nation will be an opportunity to film on the tribe’s reservation, with Cherokee, Ponca and other Native people interested in being involved in the film industry. “It is that much more special to me knowing that I have the trust and support of so many Native people who stand behind this script,” Troy said.  

Troy, who is part Chiricahua Apache, is directing the film from his Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences 2021 Nicholl’s semifinalist screenplay, which was based on Joseph Starita’s book, “I Am a Man.” Starita is a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Executive producers include Omaha native Warren Anzalone and former Nebraska State Sens. Colby Coash of Lincoln and Burke Harr of Omaha. 

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Jazari Kual
Jazari Kual

Jazari Kual is a senior majoring in journalism and broadcasting media production at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before interning at the Nebraska Examiner, he interned at Flatwater Free Press. He also owns and operates a video company. Jazari is bilingual, with fluency in English and Arabic.