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reservation on the Big Blue river in Gage county. This in turn was demanded by the white man and in 1881 it was sold and the tribe went south to its present home in Oklahoma.

      The story of the Ponca tribe is one of the most interesting and romantic in Indian annals. The little tribe, numbering something over a thousand was found by the earliest white explorers occupying the country at the mouth of the Niobrara river. During the whole of the eighteenth and three-fourths of the nineteenth centuries this was the most exposed outpost against the wild Indians of the northwest, the fierce Oglala and Brule Sioux, who, although the blood kindred of the Ponca, were their bitterest enemies. In spite of losses by this ceaseless border warfare, and by smallpox, the little band maintained itself in its ancient home and remained from the first the firm friend of the whites. When the great Sioux treaty of 1868 was made at Ft. Laramie by some blunder that no one has ever explained, the whole Ponca reservation, which had been guaranteed to the tribe over and over again in repeated treaties by the national government was given to their deadly enemies, the Brule and Oglala Sioux. Soon as their enemies understood that the Ponca territory had been given to them by treaty of the United States their raids became more fierce and frequent. The seven years that followed the Ft. Laramie treaty were years when the Poncas were obliged to work their little gardens and cornfields as did the Pilgrims in New England or the early settlers of Kentucky, with hoe in one hand and rifle in the other. In 1876 congress passed an act providing for the removal of the Poncas to Indian Territory, with their consent. The next year another act was passed for their removal to the territory without regard to their consent. In the spring of 1877 the Poncas were busy putting in their crops. Many

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Ponca Indian Agency and School August 19, 1904.

had sown spring wheat. Some had put in corn and were engaged in gardening. A force of soldiers arrived and orders were sent out for all the Indians to prepare to move at once to Indian Territory. There were heart-breaking scenes in the little tribe. The Niobrara and Ponca valleys had been their home so long they knew no other. The graves of a dozen generations were there. The little fields their foremothers had cultivated with buffalo-bone hoes before the white trader brought in iron tools were to be abandoned. There were tears in the teepees and hot words in the little councils. The cooler heads prevented an outbreak and the long march to the south was begun. Arrived at their new home the warm, moist climate, so different from the dry, bracing air of their Nebraska home, brought on sickness. Out of seven hundred and ten, one hundred and fifty-eight died the first year. Homesickness, worst of all diseases in misery that it carries, was in every lodge.

     In the mid-winter of such a scene of wretchedness, Chief Standing Bear, with a little band of thirty relatives and retainer's,



slipped away from the reservation and turned their faces north. Seven of the party were very sick when they started. They were ten weeks on the road and arrived, ragged and nearly starved, at the Omaha agency in March. Their presence there was reported by the agent to 'Washington and on request of Secretary of Interior Carl Schurz, the commanding officer at Omaha, General Crook, was ordered to arrest them and return them under military guard to Indian Territory. When the party was brought to Omaha, March 26, 1879, the news of their misfortunes became known and in their behalf was brought one of the most important law suits to determine the status of Indians ever tried. Friends of the prisoners induced John L. Webster and A. J. Poppleton to volunteer their services in their behalf. This was the case of Standing Bear vs. George Crook, brigadier general of the United States army, and asked that a writ of habeas corpus be
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Standing Bear, Wife and Daughter.

issued to restore them to the liberty of which they had unjustly been deprived. The case was argued by Webster and Poppleton for the Poncas and by United States District Attorney Lambertson for the government. The great issue raised was whether Indians were citizens and as such entitled to the protection of the constitution and laws of the United States. Judge Dundy did not decide this question in his opinion, but held that an Indian was a person within the meaning of the laws and had therefore the right to the writ of habeas corpus; that in addition an Indian had the right to sever his tribal relations and that Standing Bear and party having done this could not be imprisoned without trial and were entitled to their liberty.

     Standing Bear and his band remained in Nebraska. A few years later the great Sioux nation, to show that the wars were all ended, ceded enough lands on the old Ponca reserva-

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