December 25, 2014 by 

Chief Standing Bear

It got half-way there.

It will have to wait until next year to see if Congress will approve creation of a Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail.

The United States House approved by voice vote a bill sponsored by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, but it has yet to pass the Senate.
Standing Bear and the Ponca Tribe were forced to move from the Niobrara area to Oklahoma. Standing Bear’s son died the first winter in their new home. U.S. Army soldiers arrested Standing Bear in Omaha as he attempted to return to the Niobrara area to bury his son.

Congressman Fortenberry recounts Chief Standing Bear’s speech at the end of his two-day trial.

“And in doing so, he raised his hand Mr. Speaker and he had this to say, ‘That hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you will feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine is the same color as yours. I am a man. God made us both,’” Fortenberry states.

Fortenberry says that speech, made during the 1879 trial, made a profound statement about the rights of all in America.

“And to the credit of Judge Elmer Dundy, he ruled then that Native Americans were full persons within the meaning of the law; for the first time, in that trial,” Fortenberry says.

The bill would direct the Secretary of the Interior to assess the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail.

The office of Sen. Deb Fischer says the senator plans to introduce the measure when the new Congress convenes next month.

Sen. Deb Fischer’s office says the senator plans to introduce the legislation again next year.

Click here for more on Chief Standing Bear from the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this report.