BARNESTON, Neb. (AP) _ The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska has renamed the state’s Homestead Trail to Chief Standing Bear Trail after gaining ownership of the sliver of land the tribe refers to as the “Ponca Trail of Tears.”
Nearly 200 people were present Thursday for the deed signing to the nearly 20-mile trail stretching from Beatrice to Barneston. The celebration consisted of a drum circle, traditional dancers and victory songs.
In 1877, U.S. soldiers forced over 700 Ponca members to march nearly 280 miles from their homeland along the Niobrara River to a reservation in Oklahoma.
The trail has been renamed after Chief Standing Bear, who was arrested for leaving the reservation while trying to bury his son on Ponca land. Moved by Standing Bear’s testimony, a judge ruled in 1879 that Native Americans are people and can’t be forced onto a reservation.