Mar 26, 2015 

Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and cosponsor Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) announced that the Natural Resources Committee approved their legislation directing the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail (H.R. 984).

Fortenberry previously spoke before the House of Representatives in support of the legislation. A video of his remarks can be found below:

“The story of the Ponca Chief Standing Bear is a story of strength, grace, and dignity in the protection of the most basic of human rights,” Fortenberry said. “I believe it is a story that needs to be told again and again, understood, and cherished by all Americans of coming generations. The establishment of the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail would honor both the courage and legacy of this brave individual and his contribution to the civil liberties of our nation.”

“As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, I take great pride in remembering the achievements of brave Native American leaders like Chief Standing Bear,” Cole said. “His unwavering fight to secure equal treatment under the law for America’s native people helped pave the way for many more remarkable achievements that have been and will be made by Indians across America. Designating a trail in his memory would not only honor his legacy but inspire generations to come, and I am very pleased by Congressman Fortenberry’s commitment to making that a reality in the future.”

Judi gaiashkibos, Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, said, “We welcome this vote by the House Natural Resources Committee passing with unanimous consent the Chief Standing Bear Trail Feasibility Study bill. This is a significant step forward toward federal recognition of the trail and its importance to United States civil rights history. We want to thank Congressman Fortenberry for his passionate stewardship and his unwavering commitment to bring Chief Standing Bear’s journey for justice to a National Audience.”

A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last December.

Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He first introduced legislation to honor Chief Standing Bear in the 110th Congress and the resolution by approved by the House in 2008.

Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, Budget Committee and Rules Committee. Representing the Fourth District of Oklahoma, Cole is one of only two Native Americans currently serving in Congress, where he is a leader on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments.