Community chooses first book to read together

A to Z Books owner Sharon Owen holds up a copy of Joe Starita’s “A Warrior of the People” Sunday. To announce the inaugural “One Book for North Platte” selection, Owen unveiled a table with stacks of the book at a reception at the Martin Cordes Educational Building.

“A Warrior of the People” was announced Sunday as the first selection for “One Book for North Platte: Lincoln County Reads.”

The book tells the story of Susan LaFlesche Picotte, the Nebraska woman who became the first Native American to earn a medical degree. It was written by Joe Starita, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism professor and author of two other books about Native American history.

About 30 people attended the announcement Sunday at a reception at the Martin Cordes Educational Building.

The book was selected by a committee after nominations from community members throughout Lincoln County. More than 150 books were nominated, and the list was then narrowed to 50. More than a dozen readers read and evaluated those books, according to a press release.

From the readers’ evaluations, the selection committee chose three finalists: “A Warrior of the People,” “The Bones of Paradise” by Jonis Agee and “The Last Days of Night” by Graham Moore.

Committee member Sherry Polk, who made Sunday’s announcement, said the committee was unanimous in selecting Starita’s book.

The other committee members are Shirai Armstrong, Connie Brittan, Brenda Robinson, Connie Ruhlman and Phyllis Swigart.

Activities relating to the book will be scheduled throughout the year, including speakers, documentary viewings and discussions.

Picotte was born in 1865 and became a doctor in 1889, three decades before women were granted the vote. A member of the Omaha tribe, she worked as a physician on the reservation until 1894, when she began a private practice.

She established a hospital in Walthill, Nebraska, in 1913. It is now a National Historic Landmark but was listed in 2018 as one of 11 “most endangered places” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In a video shown at Sunday’s event, Starita said Picotte “was ‘leaning in’ a century before Sheryl Sandberg graduated from high school.” (Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, wrote a 2013 book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”)

Starita said he plans to visit North Platte in the spring.

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