Chief Standing Bear - Notable Native Americans
Chief Standing Bear was a Ponca chief and Native American civil rights leader who successfully argued in U.S. District Court in 1879 in Omaha that Native Americans are "persons within the meaning of the law" and have the right of habeas corpus. He is therefore the first Native American to have legally asserted that he had Civil Rights under U.S. law. Standing Bear oversaw the time period of removal for his people, and was misled into singing a document of removal for the Ponca from their territory in Nebraska to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). After reluctantly agreeing to view potential reservation lands , he and other Chiefs were not happy with what they saw. Nonetheless, in 1877 he and his people were forced to walk to Oklahoma, where many people died-including 1 of his daughters. While in Oklahoma, his son also died. He promised his son he would bury him in their traditional territory. Upon setting off towards Nebraska , he was arrested, thus starting his legal case.
“This hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be of the same color as yours. The same God made us both. I am a Man.”