USPS Releases Chief Standing Bear Stamp In Lincoln Ceremony


    The U-S Postal Service held ceremonies in Lincoln Friday for a new stamp honoring Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe, whose landmark lawsuit in 1879 established that a Native American is a person under the law

      The Postal Service has printed 18 million copies of the stamp, which features a portrait of Chief Standing Bear by illustrator Thomas Blackshear II, based on a black and white photograph taken in 1877

       The release of the stamp comes 146 years after the Army forced Standing Bear and about 700 other members of the Ponca tribe to leave their homeland in northeast Nebraska and walk 600 miles to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. 

     A lawsuit filed by Chief Standing Bear led to a ruling that found a Native American is a person with a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Another lawsuit later returned to the tribe the land they’d been forced to leave. 

   The federal government terminated the Ponca tribe of Nebraska in 1966 but the tribe regained federal recognition in 1990 and it now has about 5,500 members, operates 3 health clinics, and offers numerous services to members.

      The stamp drew praise from indigenous leaders at the program in Lincoln. Ponca Tribe Chair Candace Schmidt said most people don’t know about Standing Bear or the Ponca story, which she called “our own trail of tears,” but that “We are finally able to tell his story of perseverance and how we as a tribe are resilient.”

     Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs executive director Judi gaiashkibos called the issuing of a Chief Standing Bear stamp a milestone that she hopes “provokes necessary conversations about race, sovereignty and equality in the United States.”

       She said “It’s remarkable that the story of Nebraska Native American civil rights leader Chief Standing Bear has progressed from a native man being considered a non-person by the U-S Government in 1879, to today being recognized by the Postal Service with a stamp honoring him as an American icon.”