A renowned Ponca chief, Standing Bear, in 1879, became the first Native to be legally recognized as a person.

In 1877, the federal government forced the Ponca from their northeast Nebraska land to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. A year later, honoring the wish of his 16-year-old son to be buried along the Niobrara River, Standing Bear led a band of tribe members back to Nebraska.

Arrested for leaving the reservation, Standing Bear stood trial at Fort Omaha, his lawyers filing a writ of habeas corpus contesting the detention. The judge ruled in favor of Standing Bear and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling.