This is homeland of the Ponca Indians who have lived in this area since earliest recorded history. In 1868, 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 1858 had guaranteed their land to them. The Ponca were forcibly removed to Indian Territory in 1877. Unable to adjust to the climate of the South, many became ill and died. Among these was the son of Chief Standing Bear.
In January 1879, the chief and his small band left Indian Territory bearing the remains of his son for burial in Nebraska. When troops arrested the small band, white friends came to their aid. As a result of a court decision it was determined that "an Indian is a person within the meaning of the law." This important action did much to provide legal rights for all Indians.
A Nebraska reservation was eventually assigned to the Northern Ponca while many of the Southern Ponca remained in Oklahoma. In 1962, at the request of the Ponca, Congress provided for a termination of the reservation. Today the Ponca can be proud of their fight for justice. In 1977, Chief Standing Bear was elected to the Nebraska Hall of Fame in the State Capitol.
Niobrara Community Club
Nebraska State Historical Society
Hwy. 14, near Niobrara