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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

Sage Brothers Memorial

The Sage Brothers Memorial plaque was originally placed at the entrance to Sage Brothers Memorial Field. In 1999 it was moved to downtown Niobrara, just north of the Niobrara Mall.

Niobrara, NE Memorials

Ponca Tribe Marker

This has been the homeland of the Ponca Indians since earliest recorded history. In 1866, the Federal government signed the treaty of Fort Laramie, which transferred the land to the Sioux without the permission of the Ponca. Treaties made with the government in 1856

Niobrara, NE Historical Markers

Niobrara Valley Golf Course

This nine-hole course with grass greens was built on the old town site. Carts available for rent.

Niobrara, NE Recreation

Church of Our Most Merciful Savior

Built in 1884, this one story church with board and batten siding is the only surviving Episcopal mission in the county. Services are still conducted with a beautifully wood finished interior. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Priest in Charge - Fr. David Hussey

Niobrara, NE Historic Churches

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...