April 6, 2023

U.S. Postal Service Honors Chief Standing Bear

Ponca Tribe Leader Championed Native American 14th Amendment Rights

Chief Standing Bear Stamp


The U.S. Postal Service holds reverence for Chief Standing Bear by honoring him with a Forever stamp. In 1879, Standing Bear won a landmark court ruling that determined a Native American was a person under the law with an inherent right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The first-day-of-issue event is free and open to the public. News of the stamp is being shared with the hashtag #ChiefStandingBearStamp.


The Honorable Anton G. Hajjar, vice chairman, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors

Candace Schmidt, chairwoman, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska

Judi M. gaiashkibos, executive director, Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs

Steve Laravie Jr., descendent of Chief Standing Bear

Joseph Starita, author, “I am a man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice”

Maggie Stuckey-Ross, parks and recreation director, city of Lincoln


Friday, May 12, at 11 a.m. CDT


Centennial Mall
Between P and Q streets
Lincoln, NE 68508


Dedication ceremony attendees are encouraged to RSVP at: usps.com/chiefstandingbear


In 1877, the U.S. Army had forcibly relocated some 700 Ponca to Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma) after the federal government had given away the tribe’s homeland in the Niobrara River Valley in what is now northeastern Nebraska.

In a landmark civil rights case, Standing Bear v. Crook, Standing Bear sued the government for his freedom after being arrested, along with 29 other Ponca, for attempting to return to his homeland. Lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus to test the legality of the detention, an unprecedented action on behalf of a Native American.

After winning the case, Standing Bear and the members of the Ponca who had followed him were allowed to return to their old Nebraska reservation along the Niobrara River.

One issue that his 1879 trial had raised was finally resolved in 1924 when Congress adopted the Indian Citizenship Act, which conferred citizenship on all Native Americans born in the United States.

This stamp features a portrait of Chief Standing Bear by illustrator Thomas Blackshear II. Blackshear created the portrait based on a photograph taken of Standing Bear in 1877 while he was in Washington, DC, as part of a delegation of Ponca chiefs appealing to government officials for the right to return to their homeland. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.

Customers may purchase stamps and other philatelic products through the Postal Store at usps.com/shopstamps, by calling 844-737-7826, by mail through USA Philatelic or at Post Office locations nationwide.



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