The U.S. House of Representatives considers H.R.810, a bill to conduct a feasibility study on the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail, on May 12, 2021.

The bill opens the door for the Department of the Interior to create the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail. The 550-mile path would trace the forced removal of the Ponca Tribe from its homelands in Nebraska to Oklahoma, and back.

“Chief Standing Bear and his Ponca people were relocated from their ancestral homeland in Niobrara, Nebraska, to what was called Indian Territory in Oklahoma,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska), the sponsor of H.R.810. “As we learned, Chief Standing Bear’s son fell ill, and he made his son a promise that he would bury him back in his ancestral homeland. When that happened, Standing Bear took that harrowing journey one cold winter back home, and for that, he was arrested for leaving the reservation.

“During his trial, Chief Standing Bear raised his hand and said: “I am a man. The same God made us both.” The judge was so moved by his testimony that he declared that Native Americans were to be considered persons for consideration under the law,” Fortenberry added. “That wasn’t until 1879.”

Following debate, the House passed H.R.810 through Roll Call 137.

Video Courtesy C-SPAN