When the Army arrested a chief of the Ponca Tribe in 1878 for leaving their reservation, he sued the Federal government and won —the first time in which the courts recognized that a Native American had legal rights.
In the village of Niobrara, the tiny Ponca tribe runs a museum in a one story community center covered with dark-brown shingles and white trim. The town is in the Northeast corner of Nebraska across from North Dakota, where the Niobrara River flows into the Missouri – a beautiful stretch of water that remains much the same as it was when Lewis and Clark paddled by here 210 years ago.
In the community center, the Ponca hold tight to their memories. The tribe’s historian, Vance Appling, is eager to recount the story of Standing Bear and the “Ponca Trail of Tears,” when the U.S.