Lincoln, Neb.: The remarkable journey of Ponca Chief Standing Bear from the Trail of Tears to a landmark civil rights trial is the focus of a new documentary produced by NET Television for Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc. (NAPT).
Weaving interviews, historical material and recreations, the 60-minute documentary traces Standing Bear's 1870 journey from his Nebraska homeland to the malaria-infested plains of Oklahoma's Indian Territory and back again to Nebraska. His 600-mile odyssey was fueled by his desire to honor his dying son's last wish to be buried with his ancestors in his homeland.
What unfolded next was a series of extraordinary events that sparked a national debate and likely influenced the outcome of the famous Omaha courtroom trial. After General George Crook imprisoned Standing Bear's group at Fort Omaha for leaving Indian Territory, Omaha World-Herald reporter Thomas Tibbles wrote about their confinement and attorneys. If Standing Bear could prove he was a person in the eyes of the law, he could return to his Nebraska homeland. The Chief's eloquent and direct plea to the judge: "I am a man. The same God made us both." most certainly influenced the judge's decision to grant him his freedom.
Visit ShopPBS.org to find out more about Standing Bear's Footsteps.
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