Chief Standing Bear to be on Postage Forever Stamps

 The story of Chief Standing Bear, which has reached new levels of prominence in Nebraska of late, now will be spread further through the U.S. mail. A “Forever” commemorative stamp bearing the likeness of the Ponca leader is to be issued and became available for use nationwide May 12. The U.S. Postal Service says it is printing 18 million of the postage stamps.
 Ponca Chief Standing Bear is featured on a U.S. postal stamp (Pictured below). (Courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service)
 A dedication ceremony was held in Lincoln, Nebraska that day with Anton Hajjar, vice chair of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors; Candace Schmidt, chairwoman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska; and Judi gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
 The Chief Standing Bear stamp features a portrait by illustrator Thomas Blackshear II, who created the image based on a black-and-white photograph taken in 1877. At that time, Standing Bear was in Washington, D.C., as part of a delegation of Ponca chiefs appealing to government officials for the right to return to their homeland.
 The colors of Standing Bear’s clothing were based mainly on contemporary descriptions. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.In a media advisory, the U.S. Postal Service said it “holds reverence for Chief Standing Bear by honoring him with a forever stamp.”
 The statement notes how 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. Two years earlier, in 1877, the U.S. Army had forcibly relocated some 700 Ponca to Indian Territory in Oklahoma after the federal government had given away the tribe’s homeland in the Niobrara River Valley in northeastern Nebraska.
 Standing Bear sued the government for his freedom after being arrested, along with other Ponca, for attempting to return to his homeland to fulfill a promise to his son, Bear Shield, who had died in the aftermath of having to walk some 600 miles to that arid Indian Territory.
 It was during the ensuing trial that Standing Bear spoke the long-remembered words: “The blood that will flow from mine will be of the same color as yours. I am a man. The same God made us both.”
 The forever stamp follows local developments to honor the Ponca chief’s legacy, including last summer’s dedication of the Chief Standing Bear Justice Administration Building. State lawmakers allocated funding for a Standing Bear documentary. A new Lincoln high school bears his name.
 In 2019, state lawmakers placed a statue of the chief in the U.S. Capitol, as one of two representatives of Nebraska. In the two years prior, similar statues were placed in Niobrara, the headquarters of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, and near the State Capitol.
 Forever stamps can be used to mail a one-ounce letter no matter how prices change in the future and no matter when they are purchased or used. Subjects typically come as a recommendation to the U.S. Postmaster General from a citizens stamp advisory committee.
 The committee says it welcomes and reviews suggestions for stamp subjects that celebrate the American experience. Subjects may be considered if the subject had a significant impact on American history, culture or environment.

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