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Chief Standing Bear


category : Indian Heritage
Chief Standing Bear

Ponca Chief Standing Bear merely wanted to fulfill a promise; instead, he became part of one of the West's most famous trials. The Chief's son, like many of his tribe, had taken ill after being forced onto a reservation in Oklahoma. On his deathbed, the son uttered a final wish: to return to the traditional land of the Ponca, 500 miles away in northern Nebraska. Determined to bury the remains of his son in the land of his ancestors, Standing Bear escaped the reservation with a small band of relatives and friends. Three months later, they were captured by a reluctant, sympathetic Brigadier General George Crook and detained at Fort Omaha. Standing Bear's plight caught the attention of Thomas Tibbles, the assistant editor of the Omaha Daily Herald. Tibbles enlisted the help of two prominent Omaha lawyers who filed suit, claiming that the defendants had been illegally deprived of their liberty. During the trial, General Crook testified on behalf of the Ponca. Standing Bear was vindicated.


For the first time in American history, Native Americans were recognized as having protection under the U.S. Constitution. Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that "an Indian is a person within the meaning of the law."



Come visit us in Niobrara, Nebraska

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Outdoor Mural

This 140 ft. mural on the north side of the museum building was painted by Keith Knutson of Niobrara and Blane Berg of Verdel. It was funded by the Historical Society and represents approximately 200 years of history from Lewis & Clark days to the

Niobrara, NE Arts

National Register Sites in Knox County

Bloomfield - Pospeshil Theater (1906): Elaborate pressed tin ceiling, fanciful woodwork.

- Carnegie Library: Being transformed into a museum. 402-373-4771

Center - Knox County Courthouse (1935

Niobrara, NE National Register

Niobrara Museum

Included in the displays and items of our interesting past in the museum are:

  • Collections of items from Niobrara and surrounding area
  • Documents of the three Niobrara towns' activities
  • Niobrara, NE Museums

Pilgrim Congregational Church and Manse

Constructed in 1870-71, this building served as both a chapel and a training school. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Niobrara, NE Historic Churches

Chief Standing Bear

Ponca Chief Standing Bear merely wanted to fulfill a promise; instead, he became part of one of the West's most famous trials. The Chief's son, like many of his tribe, had taken ill after being forced onto a reservation in Oklahoma. On his deathbed, the son uttered a final wish:

Niobrara, NE Indian Heritage

Things to do Indian Heritage near Niobrara, NE

Ton won tonga Site

Located near the town of Homer, Big Village or "Ton won tonga," the principal village of the Omaha tribe, w...