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The U.S. Postal Service announced on Thursday that it will honor legendary Ponca Chief Standing Bear on a forever stamp.. The stamp will be released on Friday, May 12, 2023 at the Centennial Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

On hand at the ceremony will be Anton G. Hager, vice chairman, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors; Candace Schmidt, chairwoman, Ponca Tribe; and Judi M. Gaiashkibos, executive director, Nebraska Commission of Indian Affairs.

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Chief Standing Bear became famous for his resistance to the U.S. government’s forced relocation of the Ponca people to Indian Territory to what is now known as the state of Oklahoma.

The resistance came in a lawsuite that began when in 1877, the U.S. Army had forcibly relocated some 700 Ponca to Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma) after the federal government had given away the tribe’s homeland in the Niobrara River Valley in what is now northeastern Nebraska.

In a landmark civil rights case, Standing Bear v. Crook, Standing Bear sued the government for his freedom after being arrested, along with 29 other Ponca, for attempting to return to his homeland. Lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus to test the legality of the detention, an unprecedented action on behalf of a Native American.

After winning the case, Standing Bear and the members of the Ponca who had followed him were allowed to return to their old Nebraska reservation along the Niobrara River.

One issue that his 1879 trial had raised was finally resolved in 1924 when Congress adopted the Indian Citizenship Act, which conferred citizenship on all Native Americans born in the United States.

The stamp features a portrait of Chief Standing Bear by illustrator Thomas Blackshear II. Blackshear created the portrait based on a photograph taken of Standing Bear in 1877 while he was in Washington, DC, as part of a delegation of Ponca chiefs appealing to government officials for the right to return to their homeland. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.

Customers may purchase stamps and other philatelic products through the Postal Store at usps.com/shopstamps, by calling 844-737-7826, by mail through USA Philatelic or at Post Office locations nationwide.

 

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