Opinion

Gloria Hamilton: Chief Standing Bear stood up for human rights






Ponca Chief Standing Bear. Photo from Wikipedia

Gloria Hamilton, the culture director for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, explains the significance of Chief Standing Bear:
Standing Bear was the man that went to court against the United States Army and won, when Judge Elmer S. Dundy declared for the first time that Indians were recognized as “persons in the eyes of the law” during a landmark 1879 trial, Standing Bear v. Crook.

After being forcibly removed from his homeland in northeast Nebraska, Standing Bear and other members of the Ponca Tribe were taken to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

Nearly a third of the tribe died, including Standing Bear’s son. It was his son’s dying wish to be buried in his homeland.

Standing Bear wanted to honor his son’s wish and – along with 65 other Ponca members - left Oklahoma to return to their homeland along the Niobrara River in Nebraska.

It was on this trip that Standing Bear was arrested by the Army. The case went to trial in Omaha, and Standing Bear earned the victory in the courtroom.

During the trial, Standing Bear was allowed to speak on his own behalf. It was during this speech that he famously said: “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”

Get the Story:
Gloria Hamilton: Telling and retelling the story of Standing Bear (The Lincoln Journal Star 5/12)

Also Today:
Tribe excited for new headquarters being built (The Norfolk Daily News 5/12)