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Chief Standing Bear
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    Born near Niobrara, Nebraska on what was Ponca tribal land
    Ponca Tribe Chief/Constitutional Rights Defendant
    Ponca name--'Mah-chu-nah-zah'
    He refused to have his tribe relocated to Oklahoma, defying a Federal order (1876).
    He led a trek across the Midwest to bury his son on Ponca land. Several members of his tribe died along the way.
    He did this in defiance of the Federal order, and was arrested.
    The government tried to claim that Native Americans were not human, and therefore should have no rights or claims to property.
    He became chief at a young age, and was a wise leader.
    He and the Ponca tribe were forced to relocate to Oklahoma and learn farming (the Ponca were a hunting tribe).
    He barely survived the hideous conditions of the Indian Territory, but his son did not; he promised his son that he would be buried on Ponca ground.
    It is believed that General George Crook, the officer who arrested Standing Bear, helped him prepare his case for trial.
    He claimed in court that his tribe lost its land unfairly, and that under the US Constitution the Ponca tribe were American citizens.
    He was the first to have a Federal court rule that Native Americans were human beings and not savages. The Court further ruled that as American citizens they had been horribly treated without due cause.
    A commission established by President Rutherford Hayes agreed, and a portion of their tribal land was returned and their tribe was freed.
    He became a popular speaker in the East, and won the support of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and other writers.
    He returned to his tribal land, where he hunted and farmed until his death.
    Because of him, Native Americans began to establish their rights in American society.

Credit: Art Gremashlo

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