CHIEF STANDING BEAR NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL FEASIBILITY STUDY; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 62
(House of Representatives - April 28, 2015)

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[Pages H2487-H2488]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




     CHIEF STANDING BEAR NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL FEASIBILITY STUDY

  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass 
the bill (H.R. 984) to amend the National Trails System Act to direct 
the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of 
designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail, and for 
other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 984

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. CHIEF STANDING BEAR NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL 
                   FEASIBILITY STUDY.

       Section 5(c) of the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 
     1244(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(46) Chief standing bear national historic trail.--
       ``(A) In general.--The Chief Standing Bear Trail, extending 
     approximately 550 miles from Niobrara, Nebraska, to Ponca 
     City, Oklahoma, which follows the route taken by Chief 
     Standing Bear and the Ponca people during Federal Indian 
     removal, and approximately 550 miles from Ponca City, 
     Oklahoma, through Omaha, Nebraska, to Niobrara, Nebraska, 
     which follows the return route taken by Chief Standing Bear 
     and the Ponca people, as generally depicted on the map 
     entitled `Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail 
     Feasibility Study', numbered 903/125,630, and dated November 
     2014.
       ``(B) Availability of map.--The map described in 
     subparagraph (A) shall be on file and available for public 
     inspection in the appropriate offices of the Department of 
     the Interior.
       ``(C) Components.--The feasibility study conducted under 
     subparagraph (A) shall include a determination on whether the 
     Chief Standing Bear Trail meets the criteria described in 
     subsection (b) for designation as a national historic trail.
       ``(D) Considerations.--In conducting the feasibility study 
     under subparagraph (A), the Secretary of the Interior shall 
     consider input from owners of private land within or adjacent 
     to the study area.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Utah (Mr. Bishop) and the gentlewoman from Massachusetts (Ms. Tsongas) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah.


                             General Leave

  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks 
and to include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Utah?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman 
from Nebraska (Mr. Fortenberry), the sponsor of this piece of 
legislation.
  Mr. FORTENBERRY. Mr. Speaker, let me thank the distinguished 
gentleman from Utah (Mr. Bishop), the chairman of the House Committee 
on Natural Resources, and the distinguished gentleman from Arizona (Mr. 
Grijalva), who is the ranking member on the committee, as well as the 
distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. McClintock), the chairman 
of the Federal Lands Subcommittee, and the distinguished gentlewoman 
from Massachusetts (Ms. Tsongas), the ranking member on the 
subcommittee, for their outstanding work and help to me in bringing 
this legislation to the floor.
  This is important. This legislation directs the Secretary of the 
Interior to conduct a feasibility study for the Chief Standing Bear 
National Historic Trail.
  Now, Chief Standing Bear holds a very special place in Native 
American and U.S. history. Establishing a trail in his name would be an 
outstanding way to recognize his contributions to our great land. I 
would like to provide some additional background on this extraordinary 
individual, who prevailed in one of the most important court cases for 
Native Americans in our country's history.
  Chief Standing Bear was a Ponca chief. In the 1800s, the Ponca Tribe 
made its home in the Niobrara River Valley area of Nebraska. In 1877, 
the United States Government forcibly pressured the Poncas from that 
homeland, compelling them to move to the Indian territory in Oklahoma. 
Not wanting to subject his people to a confrontation with the 
government, Standing Bear obliged and led them from their homes on a 
perilous journey to the territory of Oklahoma. That journey was harsh 
and the new land was inhospitable. Nearly a third of the tribe died 
along the way from starvation, malaria, and other diseases, including 
Chief Standing Bear's little girl and, later, his son, Bear Shield.
  Before Bear Shield died, however, Standing Bear promised his son that 
he would bury him in their native land in the Niobrara River Valley. So 
Standing Bear embarked on the trip in the winter of 1878 to return to 
the homeland to bury his son, leading a group of about 65 other Poncas. 
When they reached the Omaha reservation, the United States Army stopped 
Standing Bear and arrested him for leaving Oklahoma without their 
permission. He was taken to Fort Omaha and held there until trial.
  In the meantime, Standing Bear's plight attracted media attention, 
first in the Omaha Daily Herald, which was the forerunner of the 
present-day Omaha World-Herald, and the story became well-publicized 
nationally.
  At the conclusion of his 2-day trial, Standing Bear was allowed to 
speak for himself. And then he raised his hand and he said this: ``That 
hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. 
If you pierce your hand, you will feel pain. The blood that will flow 
from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. God made us 
both.''
  With these profound words in that late spring day of 1879, I believe 
Chief Standing Bear expressed the most American of sentiments: the 
belief in the inherent dignity and rights of all persons, no matter 
their color, no matter their ethnicity. Judge Elmer Dundy concurred, 
and he ruled that Native Americans are persons within the meaning of 
the law. Now, this is notable. This is 1879, and, for the first time, 
Native Americans are recognized as persons within the full meaning of 
the law.
  The story of the Ponca chief is a story of strength and grace and 
determination. I think it is a story that we need to tell over and over 
again so that it is understood and cherished by all Americans of future 
generations.
  Mr. Speaker, establishment of the Chief Standing Bear National 
Historic Trail would honor both the courage of this man and the great 
contribution to the freedom and the civil liberties of

[[Page H2488]]

our Nation that he brought about. This bill is an important first step 
toward establishing the trail, and I look forward to continuing to work 
with the committee and the National Park Service to make this a 
reality.
  Ms. TSONGAS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 984 directs the Secretary of the Interior to 
conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing 
Bear National Historic Trail in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas. The 
trail extends 550 miles, following the same route taken by Chief 
Standing Bear and the Ponca people during Federal Indian removal in 
1877 and their subsequent return to Nebraska.
  Chief Standing Bear played an important role in American history as 
the first Native American recognized by the United States Government as 
a person under law, following his arrest and ensuing trial for leaving 
his reservation in Oklahoma without permission.
  Chief Standing Bear was honoring his son's dying wish to be buried in 
the land of his birth and traveled with his son's remains, along with 
other members of his tribe, through harsh conditions from Oklahoma back 
to their ancestral lands in Nebraska. Unfortunately, at that time, 
leaving the reservation was a violation of the law.
  At the very least, 135 years later, it is only right that we look 
into the feasibility of including this trail as part of the national 
historic trails system, to reflect on a not-so-proud period of history 
in our country when Native Americans were treated as second-class 
citizens and to honor the courage of Chief Standing Bear and the Ponca 
people.
  This bill passed the House last Congress. I thank my colleagues on 
the other side of the aisle for advancing this legislation again, and 
Representative Fortenberry for his leadership on this bill.
  I support passage of this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  As was just mentioned before, this bill authorizes the study, which 
is the appropriate first step in all these types of procedures. Any 
designation of a trail would require additional action from this 
committee and this Congress.
  With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. TSONGAS. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my 
time.
  This is a very good bill. I appreciate the gentleman from Nebraska 
bringing it to our attention. I also appreciate him saying I am 
distinguished. It is obviously the new shirt that I am wearing.
  I urge adoption of this particular bill, and I yield back the balance 
of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Utah (Mr. Bishop) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 984.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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