My Place Among Them - Book Review

My Place Among Them

Author: J. Stanion
Genre: Fiction - Historical
Publisher: Koehler Books
Date Published: August 15, 2023
ISBN-10: N/A
ISBN-13: 9798888240519

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Book Review of :  My Place Among Them


J. Stanion's novel, My Place Among Them offers a gripping tale that immerses readers into the lives of two extraordinary individuals. Carter Heath, a White man, and John Iron Horse, a Lakota Native, who come from vastly different backgrounds.

In this compelling book, the stories of Native Americans and their allies in the late 19th century come to life. Through their experiences, we gain a profound understanding of their challenges and their resilience. This eye-opening account sheds light on the true struggles of Native Americans and those who bravely stood by their side. In a world plagued by prejudice, they must overcome challenges, confront difficult choices, and defy societal norms. Through Stanion's brilliant storytelling, the richness and complexity of their journeys are beautifully illuminated.

The main protagonist is John Iron Horse. We are first introduced to him as a twelve-year-old survivor of the harrowing Wounded Knee massacre. Through his experiences, we witness the challenges he faces as he is pushed to adapt to a new world and a system designed to assimilate Native American children into the culture and beliefs of the white man’s world.

The challenges faced by John's teacher, Carter Heath, become a large part of the story. He must also grapple with his mission in an education system that is foreign and unwelcomed by the indigenous tribes. There are profound complexities that Heath encounters as he strives to navigate this unfamiliar terrain.

As a teacher within this government-run school, Carter quickly learns that there is more at play than meets the eye. He finds his position wrapped up in bureaucracy, politics, money, and intertwining hidden agendas. Against that backdrop, we explore the resilience of an extraordinary student and the unwavering dedication of a teacher, all set against a backdrop of racial tensions between the red man and the white. This thought-provoking book uncovers the challenges and triumphs that arise when opposing forces collide in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

Major Mack, the school superintendent that John is taken to was a military man who had participated in many early Indian campaigns. Unlike many other military men with similar backgrounds, he'd seen the goodness and humanity of the Native Americans. He had a goal to establish a school similar to one used after the Civil War to teach agriculture to freed slaves so that they could support themselves. He believed a similar program would help the Indians adjust to life in the white world. His motto was "Kill the Indian, Save the Man," for he believed the Indians' only hope of survival was to give up their native culture and assimilate as a people into the white man's world.

True to its biographical nature, "My Place Among Them" takes readers on a captivating ride, tracing the characters' lives across different epochs and interweaving encounters with historical figures. The story primarily focuses on John and Carter, enabling us to witness their growth from a simplistic understanding of the White-Native American dynamic to a profound realization of its intricate and often frustrating nature.

As the reader follows these characters, an exploration of their significant life events unravels. Every milestone adds layers to the narrative, from birth to loss, education to employment, and romance to friendship. "My Place Among Them" offers a thought-provoking analysis of the complex dynamics between different races and will leave a lasting impression on its readers.

Reviewed by: james B

About J. Stanion


I hold a BS in Animal Science, with a minor in Wildlife Biology ('78) and a Master's in Agricultural Education, with a concentration in Therapeutic riding ('06) from Clemson University. I retired from teaching after 31 years, first as a National Board Certified Middle School Science teacher and later as a Food Science and Livestock Production teacher at a high school in upstate SC. I've had a lifelong interest in horses, Indigenous culture and the impact education has on society, culture and history. I am eternally grateful for a mother and father who told me not to settle for traditional women's roles in life. Today, I live on our family farm with my husband raising Angus cattle and caring for seven horses, a three-legged dog and lots of barn cats.

Visit for more information on J. Stanion


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