Ben Blue is born prematurely on a kitchen table in Chicago in 1956. As the tiny Ho-Chunk Indian takes his first breath, he has no idea of the challenges that await him in life. Ben grows up amid poverty in his grandparents’ Wisconsin home where he learns how to fight, face bullies, and play football. As he is shuttled between his alcoholic mother’s home and his grandparents’, Ben must cling to hope that he can one day overcome the despair that has haunted the American Indians for generations.
When Ben moves to California with his mother, his life spirals downward after he is introduced to drugs and alcohol. After his mother dies, Ben journeys through the darkness of addiction and poverty—until he commits to sobriety, causing his life to take a turn for the better. Even as Ben finds a job, earns a college degree, marries, and has children, he must battle the lures of his addiction. As his path leads him to explore his Ho-Chunk identity and address stereotypical images of Indians, he proudly makes a declaration that changes everything.
My Name is Not Chief shares the tale of an American Indian’s struggles as he attempts to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and find his place in the world.